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Google Workspace Weekly Round-up for 04 October 2021

This week we’ve got a lot of updates – upcoming and in-progress as well as updates that were completed last week. In fact there’s 14 in total!

This week we’ve got a lot of updates – upcoming and in-progress as well as updates that were completed last week. There’s 
– 1 Google Calendar update
– 2 Google Sites updates
– 4 Google Meet updates
– 1 Google Docs updates
– 1 Gmail on Android updates
– 1 Google Chat update
– 2 Google Workspace general updates
– 1 Google Drive update
– 1 Google Forms update

Before I kick off though just one small point about dates. If you look at the official Google Workspace update posts you’ll see that their rollout dates are a day behind the dates I mention here. That’s because I’m in Australia and releases will come out here a day later than the dates published by Google.

Ok then, let’s dive right in!

Upcoming / in-progress rollouts

❱❱ Easily chat with meeting participants from a Google Calendar event 
This update starts rolling out to both rapid and scheduled release domains on the web and mobile from 05 October 2021. 

Sadly, there’s a bit of a kicker in this update. You can’t use this feature to chat with meeting participants outside your domain which makes it pretty useless for those of us who work in micro or small businesses and mainly meet with people outside of our Google Workspace domain!

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

❱❱ Design your own custom themes in new Google Sites.
This feature starts rolling out to scheduled release domains from 7 October 2021 with a 1 – 3 day rollout period. 

It started rolling out to Rapid Release domains on 17 September with an extended rollout of potentially longer than 15 days for full visibility. So if you are on a Rapid Release domain and don’t yet have it, hopefully it will be with you soon!

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: View the Google support article to learn more about changing how your site looks.  

❱❱ Improved visibility in Google Meet on web.
Under this update, Google Meet on the web now automatically detects when a user appears underexposed and enhances the brightness to improve their visibility. 

Rollout to scheduled release domains is scheduled to take place from 05 October 2021, with a 15 day rollout period.

Rapid release domains started receiving this update from 20 September 2021, with a 5 day rollout period so you should see it by the end of this week.

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required. 

❱❱ Add image watermarks in Google Docs.
You can now (or soon will be able to) add image watermarks directly into Google Docs. Additionally, image watermarks are preserved when importing or exporting documents from Microsoft Word. 

This rollout started for rapid release domains on 28 September with a 15 day rollout period. Scheduled release domains will start setting this rollout from 12 October with a 1 – 3 day rollout period. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: To get started, go to Insert > Watermark in a doc.

❱❱ Improved Search In Gmail on Android.
This update started rolling out on 21 September for both Rapid and Scheduled Release paths with full rollout anticipated by end of October. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

❱❱ Ability to mute all Google Meet participants at once rolling out to mobile platforms.
This rollout started on 23 September for both release paths with a 15 day rollout period. 

Administrator action: Host Management needs to be turned on to allow this ability. You can turn Host Management on via Admin Console > Apps > Google Workspace > Settings for Google Meet > Meet safety settings (or via this direct link)

User action: This feature will be available by default to meeting hosts – if Host Management is turned on for your domain. Visit the Google Help Centre to learn more about muting participants in Google Meet. 

❱❱ Replace your background with a video in Google Meet on Android
You can now replace your Google Meet background with a video. At the moment, you can select from six Google made videos such as a classroom, a party, a beach and more. More videos are apparently planned to be released.

This rollout started on 29 September for all eligible devices with an expected rollout period of 15 days.

Administrator action: Turn on the ability for users to replace the background of their video feed with an image. You can set this via Apps > Google Workspace > Settings for Google Meet > Meet video settings (or via this direct link).

User action: Visit the Google Help Centre to learn more about changing your background in a video meeting. 

Completed rollouts

❱❱ The ability to find and share GIFs in Google Chat  
This feature was first announced on 1st September with 2 separate rollouts – one for administrators which finished 15 September and one for users which finished yesterday (Saturday). 

Administrator action: This feature is enabled by default so if you don’t want users to be able to use gifs in Google Chat you’ll need to turn it off by going to Apps > Google Workspace > Google Chat and classic Hangouts > GIFs (or use this direct link)

User action: If enabled, find and insert GIFs by selecting the “GIF” icon in the Google Chat compose bar.

❱❱ Preventing users from blocking users in trusted domains.
This update was announced on 17 September and should now be in place for everyone. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required. 

❱❱ View Alert Centre notifications directly from the Admin console toolbar
You can now quickly access Alert Centre alerts from anywhere in the Admin console from the toolbar at top of the page. Selecting the new bell icon will surface the ten latest alerts, along with a brief description. You can click on a specific alert to open it within the Alert Centre, or click “View all” to open the Alert Centre. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

All of the releases mentioned below have been previously released to domains on the Rapid Release path. Want to get access to updates sooner? You can change to a rapid release domain by going to Accounts > Account Settings > Preferences > New features (or use this direct link)

❱❱ Ability to mark non-Google file types, like PDFs, images and Microsoft Office files, which are stored in Google Drive, as available offline.

When you mark these files available offline, you can easily open these files from your browser even when you aren’t connected to the internet.

Administrator actionDrive for desktop and offline access must be enabled for your domain. 

User action: Visit the Help Centre to learn more about enabling and using Google Drive files offline

❱❱ A more visible settings tab and an improved settings layout for Google Forms.
All Google Workspace domains should now have access to this much needed upgrade to Google Forms!

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

❱❱ Ability to restore a specific Google Sites page from version history.
Prior to this release you could only restore an entire site – now you can just restore individual pages which is excellent. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

❱❱ Quick access to effects such as background blur, background images and styles during Meet calls.

This panel will also be available before joining a call in the green room self-check. 

Administrator action: Turn on the ability for users to replace the background of their video feed with an image. You can set this via Apps > Google Workspace > Settings for Google Meet > Meet video settings (or via this direct link).

User action: Visit the Help Centre to learn more about changing your background in a video meeting to learn more about blurring your background in a video meeting, and previewing how you look and sound before  a video call.

Thanks for reading this week’s Google Workspace round-up

I certainly hope it’s been of value to you as someone with Google Workspace administrator responsibilities within a small business. 

I hope you have an excellent week and if you have any questions, queries or comments about Google Workspace in general or this newsletter in particular, leave a comment below!

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