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Google Visible Changes Summary for 2021

Christopher Hopkins-Ward

Christopher Hopkins-Ward

October 16, 2021

Here is a running summary of the visible changes to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) in 2021. We will continue to update this list every month so check back often. Contact us with any questions about the new features or how to enable them for your users.

October already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Hand raising available in Chromebase for Google Meet

  • Allows users in a conference room to select their name on the Meet touch controller of the Meet Hardware and select “Raise Hand.”

Gradual Rollout | 10/6/2021 | All

Updated flow for managing backup code for 2-step verification

  • The 2-step verification homepage will now show a “backup codes” section. This will take admin to a dedicated backup codes page where you can generate new backup codes or even delete backup codes.

Gradual Rollout | 10/11/2021 | All

Configure membership restrictions for groups, available in open beta

  • Group level controls are being added to allow admins to restrict group memberships based on member type and internal/external.

Full Rollout | 10/5/2021 | All

Create meeting notes in Google Calendar

  • Gives the ability to quickly start and share meeting notes directly from the Calendar event.

Gradual Rollout | 10/5/2021 | Rapid

Review smart home devices used for work in your Admin console

  • Admins can view and manage smart displays and speakers that access work data in the Admin console. Giving admin a more complete inventory of the user devices that access Google Workspace.

Full Rollout | 10/1/2021 | All

September already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Add image watermarks in Google Docs

  • Add image watermarks directly into Google Docs.

Gradual Rollout | 9/27/2021 | Rapid

Quickly access Google Drive files in Chrome

  • Google Chrome is adding a “card” on the new tab page which will let users quickly access their high priority Drive files.

Gradual Rollout | 9/29/2021 | All

Live translated captions in Google Meet available in beta

  • English meetings will be Live Captioned translated to Spanish, French, Portugues, and German.

Beta available immediately | 9/27/2021 | All

Better understand how you’re spending your time in Google Calendar

  • Adds Time Insights in Calendar, showing you how time is spent across meetings and collaborators. Available in Admin side now, end-users are planned for 9/6.

Gradual Rollout | 9/21/2021 | Scheduled

Share where you’re working from in Google Calendar

  • Users can choose to share weekly working locations in calendar.

Gradual Rollout | 9/14/2021 | Scheduled

Google Chat ‘Rooms’ will become ‘Spaces’ starting September 8, 2021

  • “Rooms” will now be called “Spaces”. More features will be rolled out over the coming months. Read more here.

Gradual Rollout | 9/8/2021 | All

Coming soon: new Google Meet Hardware devices

  • Refreshes the Meet experience on Google Meet Hardware. Adds Series One Desk 27, Series One Board 65, and other 3rd party devices. Full announcement here.

Gradual Rollout | 9/8/2021 | All

August already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Background noise reduction in Google Meet now available to more users and turning on by default

  • Starting August 9, 2021, it will be turned on by default for Enterprise Plus users: Noise cancellation will be turned on by default for Google Workspace Enterprise Plus users who haven’t previously turned the feature off.
  • Note that this change may change the setting for some current users. There will be no change in defaults or settings for Education customers.

Gradual Rollout | 8/9/2021 | All

Use the new Google Meet web app for better meetings on desktop devices

  • The Progressive Web Applicatoin (PWA) runs on any device with Google Chrome browser version 73 and up (version 73 was released in March 2019). This means it works on Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS, and Linux devices.

Gradual Rollout | 8/2/2021 | Scheduled

Smart Compose now available in comments made in Google Slides, Sheets, and Drawings

  • Last year, we announced Smart Compose in Google Docs, a feature that helps you compose high-quality content faster and more easily. Smart Compose saves you time by cutting back on repetitive writing, helps reduce the chance of spelling and grammatical errors, and can suggest relevant contextual phrases.
  • Now, Smart Compose is generally available in comments for Google Slides, Sheets, and Drawings.

Gradual Rollout | 8/2/2021 | All

Directly Open Office Editing From Shared Links

  • When you create links to shared Microsoft Office files stored in Drive, they will open directly in Google Docs, Sheets or Slides.
  • Previously, Office files would open in a preview mode first — this streamlined experience allows you to begin editing and collaborating on these files faster.

Gradual Rollout | 7/30/2021 | Rapid

July already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Hangouts to Google Chat upgrade beginning August 16th, with option to opt-out

  • Starting Aug 16th, all those who use Hangouts will be switched to Chat unless they explicitly opt out.

Gradual Rollout | 7/15/2021 | All

Indicate whether you’ll join a meeting virtually or in person on Google Calendar

  • Introduces new RSVP options into Calendar invitations. You can indicate how you plan to join the meeting; in a meeting room  or virtually.

Gradual Rollout | 7/7/2021 | Rapid

Improving email security with BIMI

  • Announcing a pilot program for BIMI, Brand Indicator Message Identification in Gmail. Improves email authentication for those who use DMARC.

Immediately | 7/12/2021 | All

Slash commands and dialogs now available for Google Chat bots

  • Now for Chat Bots, type “/” for the bot to reveal a list of bot functions, as well as the ability to create dialog boxes.

Immediately | 7/12/2021 | All

Backup and Sync users should begin transitioning to Drive for desktop

  • Announcing a pilot program for BIMI, Brand Indicator Message Identification in Gmail. Improves email authentication for those who use DMARC.

Extended Rollout | 7/12/2021 | All

Easily navigate through the Admin console using the updated left-hand navigation bar

  • Adds a streamlined left hand bar to navigate the Admin Console.

Extended Rollout | 7/13/2021 | Immediately

June already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Google Chat will automatically suggest group chats based on your Google Calendar

  • We previously announced that Google Chat will automatically suggest 1:1 chats based on your meetings in Google Calendar.
  • Now, you’ll also get suggestions for group chats when you’re meeting with multiple people.

Extended Rollout | 6/29/2021 | Scheduled

Visual update to the Gmail search box

  • There’s an updated icon to access advanced search options, and the icon placement has changed.
  • There is no update to any functionality with this update, it’s only a user interface update.

Extended Rollout | 6/21/2021 | Scheduled

A new Google Contacts experience provides richer information about your colleagues and stakeholders

  • We’re introducing a new experience for Google Contacts which will help Google Workspace users learn more about their colleagues. Within Contacts (contacts.google.com) or the Contacts sidebar, you can view more detailed information about others, including:
    • Their management chain, department, and title.
    • A history of your Workspace relationship, including email conversations and meetings.

Gradual Rollout | 6/24/2021 | Scheduled

Launching a new online community for Google Workspace admins

  • The new Google Cloud Community will replace the old Cloud Connect Community (CCC).
  • Click here for instructions on how to migrate your existing profile and set up notifications.

Rapid Rollout | 6/23/2021

Update to some Google Drive file links, admin decision recommended before July 23, 2021

  • We’re releasing a security update that will apply to some Drive files.
  • This will make Google Drive files more secure by updating their links and may lead to some new file access requests.

Scheduled Rollout | Before 6/23/2021, Starting 6/26/2021 and 9/13/2022 | All

Improved search in Google Chat

  • You can now search Google Chat content faster by quickly editing down your search results using interactive filters on mobile.
  • These filters help you find artifacts like files and links more easily.

Extended Rollout | 6/21/2021 | Scheduled

New admin settings to control who can join your organization’s Google Meet calls, and which calls your users can join

  • We’re adding new settings in the Admin console that allows admins to set policies for who can join video calls in their organization, and whether users from their organization can join video calls from other organizations.
  • Admins now have three settings to control which types of meetings users from their organization can join:
    • Meetings created by someone in your organization
    • Meetings created by any other Google Workspace customer
    • All meetings, including meetings created with personal Google accounts

Gradual Rollout | 6/16/2021 | Scheduled

Stronger data security and privacy with Google Workspace Client-side encryption beta

  • Google Workspace already uses the latest cryptographic standards to encrypt all data at rest and in transit between our facilities.
  • With Client-side encryption, we’re taking this a step further by giving customers direct control of encryption keys and the identity provider used to access those keys.
  • This can help you strengthen the confidentiality of your data while helping to address a broad range of data sovereignty and compliance needs.
  • Available to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and Google Workspace Education Plus customers.

Beta, eligible customers can apply here | 6/14/2021

Evolving Rooms in Google Chat to Spaces to create a richer, more collaborative experience

  • Later this year, we’ll evolve the Rooms experience in Google Chat to Spaces, a dedicated place to organize people, topics, and projects in Google Workspace.
  • Spaces will also seamlessly integrate with Calendar, Drive, Tasks, and across Workspace becoming a new home for getting more done, together.

Extended Rollout | 6/14/2021 | Scheduled

Find admin approved applications in the “Approved for you” section in the Google Workspace Marketplace

  • The new “Approved for You” section in the Google Workspace Marketplace allows users to quickly see and install applications that have been approved and allow listed by their admins.

Extended Rollout | 6/8/2021 | Scheduled

Replace your background with a video in Google Meet

  • In addition to replacing your Google Meet background with a static image, you can now replace your background with a video.
  • At the moment, you can select from three Google-made videos: a classroom, a party, and a forest — more options will be available soon.

Gradual Rollout | 6/7/2021 and 6/18/2021 | Scheduled

Customize the color of your folders and shortcuts to folders in Google Drive

  • You can now customize the color of folders in shared drives, and shortcuts to folders. Previously, it was only possible to customize the color of folders in My Drive.

Gradual Rollout | 6/3/2021 | Scheduled

Changes to Google Workspace storage policies timeline

  • June 1st: High-quality photos will count towards Drive quota.
  • Feb 1, 2022: Any newly created Docs, Sheet, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard files will count towards storage. Existing files will not count unless they are modified after the date.

Full Rollout | 6/1/2021 and 2/1/2022 | All

May already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Insert smart chips for files and meetings, create checklists in Google Docs

  • In Google Docs you will be able to; insert smart chips in Docs/Sheets/Slides/Cal, create checklists, and insert intelligent links.

Gradual Rollout | 5/18/2021 | Scheduled

Present from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides directly to Google Meet

  • You can now present directly from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides directly into an active Google Meet call.

Full Rollout | 5/18/2021 | All

“Master” view in Google Slides renamed to “Theme Builder”

  • Renames the Master Slide in Google Slides to “Theme Builder.”

Gradual Rollout | 5/24/2021 | All

New enhancements for Keep: audit logging now available, Keep API coming soon

  • Admins will be able to see audit logs for user activity in Google Keep in the Admin Console. This shows when users; Create/Edit/Delete notes, add/remove collaborator, upload/delete an attachment.

Gradual Rollout | 5/24/2021 | All

Enhance Cloud Search results for PDFs containing images with Optical Character Recognition support

  • Cloud Search now supports OCR to better scan PDFS such as; physical contract docs, engineers docs containing labels/annotations, and physical customer invoices.

Gradual Rollout | 5/24/2021 | All

Introducing gentle quality notifications with tailored recommendations and quick actions

  • Gives customized notifications and recommendations to help users improve Meet quality.

Gradual Rollout | 5/26/2021 | All

New Meet Quality Tool support for failed join attempts

  • With the Meet Quality Tool, admins can now view and troubleshoot instances where users were not able to join Meet calls.

Available Now | 5/26/2021 | All

New options to control chat history in unthreaded Google Chat rooms

  • Gives admins the option to set unthreaded room history behavior separate from 1:1 and group convos, defaulting on or off. Can also prevent users from changing unthreaded room’s history.

Full Rollout | 5/10/2021 | All

Google Device Policy app ending support for iOS 11 soon

  • Google Device Policy app won’t support mobile devices running iOS 11 or lover after August 2021.

8/20/2021 | All

Google Docs will now use canvas-based rendering: this may impact some Chrome extensions

  • Over the next several months, Google will be converting Docs from HTML-based rendering to canvas-based. This improves performance and consistency. This may affect Chrome extensions. Test available.

N/A | All

New iOS Data Protection setting restricts data sharing between Google Workspace and personal Google accounts

  • Adds a new admin setting that restricts data sharing b/t GW accounts and personal G accounts in Gmail/Drive/Docs/Sheets/Slides on iOS.

Full Rollout | 5/11/2021 | All

Use Google Maps in the quick access side panel

  • In Google Calendar, you will be able to access Google Maps in the side menu bar.

Gradual Rollout | 5/3/2021 | Scheduled

Email threads with recipients outside your organization will be labeled “External”

  • Adds a new “External” label to email threads with recipients outside your organization. Admins can turn these on or off.

Gradual Rollout | 4/27/2021 | All

Improve Google Cloud Search results with Contextual Boost

  • Adds the ability to book Google Cloud Search using Cloud Search Query API for third-party data sources.

Available Now | 5/3/2021 | All

April already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Updated design for the Admin console home page

  • Updates the Admin Console to a new card-based interface, and the ability to reorder items.

Available Now | 3/31/2021 | All

Changes to Google Workspace storage policies timeline

  • June 1st: High-quality photos will count towards Drive quota.
  • Feb 1, 2022: Any newly created Docs, Sheet, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard files will count towards storage. Existing files will not count unless they are modified after the date.

Full Rollout | 6/1/2021 and 2/1/2022 | All

March already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

See more video feeds in Google Meet

  • Expanding tile view layouts for iOS and Android devices- to 8 feeds on phones and up to 48 feeds on iPads.

Full Rollout | 3/15/21 | All

Snooze Google Calendar desktop notifications

  • You can snooze Google Calendar notifications directly from the notification itself. You can also resnooze the notification.

Full Rollout | 3/16/21 | All

Set up Google Meet breakout rooms ahead of meetings in Google Calendar

  • You can now set up Breakout Rooms in Google Calendar in advance.

Gradual Rollout | 3/8/21 | Rapid

Reminder: Switch to the new desktop Google Chat app before March 30 2021

  • Switching to a new Chat standalone desktop app, so upgrading by March 30th is suggesting.

Gradual Rollout | 3/9/21 | All

Let Google Calendar automatically book a replacement room for your events

  • If a room declines your event, Google Calendar will automatically find a similar room and replace it.

Full Rollout | 2/22/21 | Rapid

More options for sharing your availability in Google Calendar

  • Ability to create repeating out-of-office entries.
  • Ability to split working hours into multiple segments each day.

Gradual Rollout | 2/22/21 | Rapid

Adding Google Chat, Google Calendar, and Jamboard to Google Workspace Essentials

  • At no additional cost, teams and orgs can connect and collaborate with Google Chat, Calendar, and Jamboard.

Available Now | 3/1/21 | All

February already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Out of office information will now display when replying to or mentioning a user in a Google Docs comment

  • In Google Docs, you can now see OOO info when replying or mentioning others in a comment.

Gradual Rollout | 1/25/21 | Rapid

January already launched Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) features:

Join a meeting with new options on the Google Meet landing page

  • On meet.google.com, you’ll see three options after you click “New Meeting:” Get Joining Info to Share, Start an Instant Meeting, and Schedule in Google Calendar.

Full Rollout | 1/7/21 | Rapid

New tools to troubleshoot network and performance issues in Google Meet

  • Adding tools in Google Meet for users to understand their local environments and how they might be affecting meeting quality.

Gradual Rollout | 1/12/21 | All

Customize text style and appearance in Google Sites

  • You can now adjust text size, color, font, spacing while using text boxes in Google Sites.

Gradual Rollout | 1/5/21 | Scheduled

Create and work with documents that contain multiple page orientations in Google Docs

  • You can now change page orientation inside a Google Doc on a per-section basis.

Gradual Rollout | 1/5/21 | Scheduled

Smart compose and spelling autocorrect available when adding comments in Google Docs

  • Smart compose and spelling autocorrect available when adding comments in Google Docs.

Available Now | 1/5/21 | All

* Rollout pace:

  • Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)
  • Gradual rollout (up to 15 days for feature visibility)
  • Extended rollout (potentially longer than 15 days for feature visibility)
Christopher Hopkins-Ward

Christopher Hopkins-Ward

October 16, 2021

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