Gmail overhaul aims to reduce worker reliance on Slack and Zoom

The tech giant is adding greater collaboration between Gmail, Chats and Meets for business G Suite users

Google has made changes to Gmail to make the app more holistic for remote working users and reduce their dependency on supporting services like Slack and Zoom.

The company is incorporating more applications into its business version of Gmail, taking away the need to use multiple tabs or switch to other apps.

Following on from Google Meet and Chats being integrated into Gmail, the tech giant is increasing the capabilities of both within the email service. The collaboration features in Chat rooms now include shared files and tasks functions.

This also includes the ability to create chat rooms with people outside of your company, such as contractors or consultants, creating cross-organisational collaboration, similar to the 'Connect' feature Slack introduced in June.

Chats within Gmail

The idea is to give G Suite customers less reason to use services like Slack and make Gmail a one-stop collaboration tool. While the email service has over 1.5 billion active users, G Suite only has six million business customers, less than Microsoft's more enterprise-focused Office suite. Within a room, users can open and co-edit a document with the rest of their team without leaving Gmail, similar to the functions in Google Docs. Users can also join video calls from Chats, forward a chat message to an inbox and create a task directly from a chat message.

"Virtual meetings, remote collaboration, flexible hours: it's becoming clear that these new ways of working are here to stay," said Javier Soltero, VP and GM of G Suite. "Remote working has significantly increased the demands we're getting from many directions - in both our professional and our personal lives. People tell us they feel overloaded with too much information and too many tasks across too many different tools. Instead of learning another tool, we need the tools we already use to be even more helpful, and work together, in an integrated, intuitive way."

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There are also updates for Meet and Chat security; in the coming weeks, Google Meet hosts will have more control over meetings, where they can assign who can join or collaborate within them. There will also be stronger phishing protections built within Gmail to Google Chat. If a user clicks on a link within the service, it will be scanned in real-time and flagged if it's found to contain malicious content.

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