Google to add video & voice calls in Gmail; Spaces feature rollout begins

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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Gmail Calls
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Google, the US-based tech giant, is getting the ability to make and receive voice and video calls in one-on-one Gmail chats. Users will be able to call people directly from their Gmail mobile or Web apps using Google Meet.

The call will be received through the Gmail app rather than the standalone Google Meet app, though the latter will be able to initiate and receive Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls in the future. The feature will also send a “chip” to the user’s computer if they prefer answering on the larger screen.

Google is also beginning the rollout of its Spaces feature, a Slack-like product which is a renamed and expanded version of Rooms chat channels with full threaded messages and the option of making spaces visible in search within the Gmail app.

Spaces are the central place for team collaboration in Workspace and are unique as they are closely integrated with Google Workspace tools like Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Tasks, providing a better way for people to engage in topic-based discussions, share knowledge and ideas, move projects forward and build communities and team culture.

In addition to being able to join in Google Meet, its calling feature will allow users to make one-on-one conversations without having to first create a meeting link through the Gmail mobile or browser app.

According to Google, in the coming months, users will also be able to get features such as streamlined navigation, discoverable spaces, enhanced search, in-line top threading and robust security and admin features.

Google is working to introduce more tools for hybrid meetings in addition to integrating new features into Gmail. In November, Google Meet will get a new feature called “Companion mode.” Users can utilize their laptops to host or join a meeting from within a conference room, leveraging the in-room audio and video without creating double audio feedback. This will allow them to share presentations, documents, etc. to the meeting from their laptops as well as see shared material up close.

By the end of the year, Google Meet’s Companion mode will have live-translated captions. The company said that it is now working on translating English meetings into French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Google’s Meet hardware ecosystem is also expanding as it launched two Series One devices, the Series One Desk 27 all-in-one and the Series One Board 65 4K collaborative board. Further, the company has certified third-party devices such as Logitech’s Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini room solutions as well as the Rayz Rally Pro speaker dock.

Related: Google reportedly developing its own CPUs for Chromebook laptops & tablets