Google Meet Companion Mode, Gmail client-side encryption, and other announcements from Cloud Next 2022

Google is revealing the newest features included in Google’s Workspace across Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, and Docs at its Cloud Next conference.

Google first rolled out Companion Mode in January which lets you text chat, raise your hand, answer polls and share screens on a laptop or web browser, while a Nest Hub Max is handling video. They recently announced that you’ll be able to launch Companion Mode on a phone, with availability in early 2023. You will also soon be able to display who is in the room by their name when using the companion feature (early 2023).

You’re about to experience an immersive and interactive presentation experience with Google Slides (public preview begins this week). Speaker Spotlight (private preview begins later this year) is a new feature that lets you insert video feeds into your presentation. Meet will give you the ability to control presentations directly through the Jamboard whiteboarding app.
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Meet is also capable of automatic meeting transcriptions and video framing that centers the video on the person you’re talking to before joining a meeting. Adaptive framing will be available on AI-powered Logitech and Huddly cameras as well, which are set to launch later this year. This option works to detect and frame speakers so they can be seen by those joining remotely.

Google Chat is introducing threaded conversations, along with emoji support, this year. Meanwhile, Spaces will switch from one-way broadcasts to real-time chats.

Following the Meet and Drive/Docs announcement, Gmail and Calendar will soon have client-side encryption. This new system is meant for enterprise customers to give them control over their own encryption keys. It’s aimed at companies that store serious and sensitive data (Enterprise Plus or Education Standard/Plus).

One of Google’s newest products is called the Smart Canvas. This is meant to improve collaboration with apps like Google Documents. On it, you’ll be able to make custom templates for email messages, pitches and other document formats. You can also access them quickly from the @-menu via a new integration with Gmail.
Google also announced support for unlimited variables, which means you can be in different locations and change data simultaneously. This will make working with clients much easier.

Starting this week, Google Sheets will be getting a new feature called Smart Chips that allow you to quickly link files and tag people while in the same tab. More third-party chips like Atlassian, Asana, Figma, Miro, Tableau and ZenDesk are coming soon.

With the new Add-on SDK, partners can embed apps directly into Meet with video feeds appearing as a grid at the right. Figma is one of the first to take advantage, with users able to collaborate on Figma design and FigJam digital whiteboards (early 2023).

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