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Google Workspace Weekly Round-up for 11 October 2021

A much quieter week for Google Workspace update announcements compared to last week but there’s still a few interesting updates rolling out, so keep your eye out for those. 

A much quieter week for Google Workspace update announcements compared to last week but there’s still a few interesting updates rolling out, so keep your eye out for those. 

This week we’ve got the following updates:

  • Making Google Classroom video meetings easier and more secure (probably not that important to most small businesses)
  • Control whether students can unenroll themselves from classes (probably not that important to most small businesses)
  • View richer information about your coworkers (only valid for small / medium businesses that have several employees)
  • Create meeting notes in Google Calendar (quite useful for any size business)

And rollouts continue for the following previously announced updates:

  • Easily chat with meeting participants from a Google Calendar event (only valid for small / medium businesses that hold meetings within their own organisation) 
  • Improved visibility in Google Meet on web (quite useful for any size business)
  • Add image watermarks in Google Docs (quite useful for any size business)
  • Improved Search In Gmail on Android (quite useful for any size business)
  • Replace your background with a video in Google Meet on Android (quite useful for any size business)

Everyone should now be able to:

  • Design your own custom themes in new Google Sites
  • Mute all Google Meet participants at once on mobile platforms

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 roll-outs

❱❱ Making Google Classroom video meetings easier and more secure 

This update is intended to make it easier for teachers to manage meetings, help prevent unintended meeting participants from joining meetings, and generally help meetings run more smoothly.

It started rolling out for both release paths from 5 October 2021 with a 15 day rollout period.

Administrator action: Google Meet must be turned on at the organisational level. To do this go to Apps > Google Workspace > Settings for Google Meet (or use this direct link) and change the Service Status to On.

User action: No action if creating new meetings once the update has rolled out. Existing Google Meet links will need to be reset to take advantage of this update. To reset Google Meet links within Google Classroom:

  • Go to classroom.google.com
  • Click the class > Settings.
  • Next to the Meet link, click the Down arrow > Reset.

❱❱ Control whether students can unenroll themselves from classes

I think this update is more for school-aged children who may have enjoyed removing themselves from classes 🙂 but it may be of value to you in your business. 

It started rolling out for both release domains from 5 October 2021 with a 15 day rollout period.

Administrator action: The new functionality will be turned off by default. So if you want to stop students from un-enrolling themselves from classes, go to Find the setting at Admin console > Apps > Additional Google Services > Classroom > Student unenrollment (or via this direct link)

User action: None required.

❱❱ View richer information about your coworkers directly in the sidebar for Google Chat, Calendar, Docs, and more.

I’m not sure how much value this update will provide to those of us with no coworkers (hello fellow sole traders!) or with only a couple of work colleagues (hello small business owners!) but if you are more on the medium size of a SMB, then you may be interested in this update.

Essentially, employees will now be able to see the following information when viewing a colleague’s contact details:

  • Contact information, such as phone number and email address
  • Team and manager details 
  • Office and desk location
  • Whether you’ve received email from them before, and more (this is an interesting statement from Google – I wonder what ‘and more’ actually means?)

It started rolling out for both release domains from 5 October 2021 with a 15 day rollout period.

Administrator action: Obviously some of this information will need to be added to user profiles before it can be seen by employees! There are two ways to do this – either by individually editing each user profile or by uploading a spreadsheet to bulk edit users.

User action: Click “Open Detailed View” while hovering over a user’s information card, or select the Contacts icon in the side panel when using Gmail, Google Chat, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, or Slides. 

❱❱ Create meeting notes in Google Calendar

It’s always been possible to link a Google Docs document to a Google Calendar invite – this update however, allows you to create a document that’s pre-populated with event details including attendee names and empty bullet point and action items lists.

This feature started rolling out to rapid release domains from 06 October 2021 with a 15 day rollout period. Scheduled release domain administrators won’t see it before 19 October though.

Administrator action: None required

User action: None required

❱❱ Easily chat with meeting participants from a Google Calendar event 

This update started rolling out to both rapid and scheduled release domains on the web and mobile from 05 October 2021 with a 15 day rollout period. 

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.

❱❱ 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 started on 05 October 2021, with a 15 day rollout period. Rapid release domains should already see this improved visibility in action.

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. 

Scheduled release domains will start seeing 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 the end of October. 

Administrator action: None Required.

User action: None Required.

❱❱ 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 so everyone should see it by the end of this week.

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 Roll-outs

❱❱ Design your own custom themes in new Google Sites

This feature started rolling out to scheduled release domains from 7 October 2021 with a 1 – 3 day rollout period so it should be all finished by now. 

Administrator action: None Required.

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

❱❱ Mute all Google Meet participants at once on mobile platforms.

This rollout started on 23 September for both release paths with a 15 day rollout period so it should be all finished by now. 

Administrator action: If people are complaining they don’t have this option, make sure Host Management is turned on. 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.

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