Google has introduced Spaces, a redesign of how people message and collaborate on projects in the company's Workspace productivity suite.
Spaces, introduced this week, will replace the Chat rooms feature in Workspace Chat this summer. The app, like rooms, is for groups of people to collaborate in real time.
With Spaces, people will create message threads for specific topics, set a custom availability status and react to messages with emojis. They will also have the option of replying to individual messages instead of only chronologically.
The new features are similar to message threads in Microsoft Teams and Slack. But Spaces is unique in its integration with the rest of the Workspace apps, so people can chat with co-workers while in the text-editing app Docs.
"This integration is important, as it makes it easier to move between Google services," said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research. "This is a significant improvement over something like Teams, where very little is integrated."
Spaces comes with other features also found in Slack and Teams. Examples include letting people search for content within their chat history and pinning messages so they always appear at the top of a chat. Also, they can use moderation tools to set guidelines within a chatroom.
A toolbar will appear on the left side of a Workspace window that will show Spaces alongside buttons for Google apps like Chat and Meet video conferencing.
Google will make Spaces available to all Workspace customers. Eventually, the company will make Spaces available to all users of its productivity services.
In September, Meet will get a new feature set called Companion Mode. The video conferencing app will let participants share their screens, conduct polls, chat during a meeting and use the raise hand function.
Later this year, Google will encrypt client-side Workspace data and hand encryption key control to customers. Companies can choose a Google partner to manage the encryption. Options include Flowcrypt, Futurex, Thales and Virtru.
Google has published APIs for companies that want to manage the encryption keys through in-house software.
Along with its current subscription pricing, Google will soon offer a small-business tier that includes premium features like professional video meetings and personalized email marketing.
Google also opened its Workspace suite to any individual with a Google account. Although people could use those apps separately, accessing them through Workspace brings a richer feature set.
Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.