Apps | October 6, 2020 12:20 pm

Get to Know Workspace, Google’s Biggest Threat to Microsoft Office Yet

Formerly known as G Suite, Google's various office apps are getting a streamlined new interface

Google Workspace debuts
Google Workspace is a more unified version of G Suite, debuting now

Even before COVID-19, many companies had turned their virtual workspaces over to Google — between user familiarity, cost benefits and simplified sign-ins, using G Suite apps was the easiest way to get a work team unified online quickly. So news that G Suite is pivoting and refining itself into something called Google Workspace might seem unnecessary, but there are advantages, particularly between apps.

“As we’ve evolved G Suite into a more integrated experience across our communication and collaboration tools, we’ve rebranded to Google Workspace to more accurately represent the product vision,” as Google notes on their new Workspace launch page.

As before, Google Workspace provides a custom email server for businesses that includes Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites and more.

As for the new: there’s different branding (hello, multi-colored icons), plus expanded pricing plans for both smaller companies and larger ones. But “integration” is the new keyword here, with all of the disparate Google apps working in a more streamlined fashion, even with people outside of the office ecosystem — one example would be a business user being able to collaborate on a document with guests in a Chat room.

With Google’s AI assistance, you’ll also be able preview a linked file without having to open a new tab and get contact details and suggested actions when you @ mention someone in a document.

Workspace is also expanding its picture-in-picture “Meet” function to Docs, Sheets and Slides (which means real-time communication if you’re collaborating). And as The Verge suggests, new integrations like creating a doc directly from a Chat window or starting a video call from within a presentation will roll out soon.

All of this seems to suggest Google is actively positioning itself as a work alternative to Microsoft Office. While most current users won’t notice a huge difference at first, the idea of easier collaboration might help get new companies — particularly smaller businesses — on-board as paid customers.