There have been some changes to Google’s way of handling subscriptions and free services recently. For example, the free unlimited free storage for Google Photos is now gone. However, The Verge now reports Google is giving another service for free, available for anyone with a Google account: Google Workspace tools and Google Chat.
Google Workspace and Google Chat are now available for anyone with a Gmail account
Gmail accounts are estimated to be around three billion at this point, so all of these users will be getting access to Google Chat and some of the Workspace productivity tools.
Google Workspace is a set of productivity tools that used to come with a paid subscription for G Suite. It basically allows you to have a more modern, integrated version of Gmail, Docs, and Google Chat: all three accessible in a single tab.
Google Chat is now a setting that you can turn on from your Gmail settings, and it gives you access to direct messages and chat rooms with other people with Google accounts you have in your contacts.
With this update, Google is also renaming the Rooms feature in Google Chat to Spaces. It still has the same functionality: it’s a chat room feature, but this time, the option to access it is positioned next to Gmail, Chat, and Meet. On top of that, Google has improved message threading for Spaces, it now offers more emoji reactions, user roles, moderation tools, and the possibility of “discoverable” spaces.
Sanaz Ahari, senior director of product, stated the idea is to make it simpler to switch between modes of communication and to keep the context of what you were doing. Spaces will get a new interface this summer.
Google also announces Workspace individual subscription tier
This new subscription tier will give you additional Workspace tools for $9.99 a month, without requiring you to set up a domain. This comes as a welcome addition to the current paid options that have been primarily focused on business customers.
Google has been rigorously working on updating Google Workspace and this leads us to believe it may actually want to compete with Microsoft.