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Google opens Workspace apps to developers

Google has introduced APIs and an SDK for third-party software integrations with Workspace apps. The company also unveiled enhancements to the productivity suite.

Google this week opened its Workspace productivity suite to third-party developers and added a slew of incremental features that improve video meetings, collaboration and data retrieval.

The company introduced the enhancements to Workspace apps Meet, Chat and smart canvas on Tuesday at the Google Cloud Next '22 conference. Google also unveiled tools for partners to integrate their online services into Workspace products.

Overall, the improvements will likely appeal to Workspace customers, many of which are school districts, colleges and nonprofits. However, experts say the latest features are unlikely to change Workspace's distant second-place standing to Microsoft 365 within the enterprise market.

"I don't see Google making the level of investment needed to break that pattern," Gartner analyst Brian Doherty said. "I don't see anything here that would blunt Microsoft's dominance [in the enterprise]."

To help broaden its customer base, Google launched integration technology for Docs, Meet and Chat.

The company opened its smart canvas collaboration and data retrieval tool in Docs to third-party applications. Google will make it possible to insert interactive information and previews from the apps into a Docs document. Google partners taking advantage of the capability include Altirnao, with its AODocs; Atlassian; Asana; Figma; Miro; Tableau and Zendesk.

Google plans to make the app integrations available to all Docs customers starting in January. The company expects to extend smart canvas capabilities to its Sheets spreadsheets before year's end.

Other developer features include APIs for starting Meet video meetings or Chat conversations from a third-party app. Google partners Asana and LumApps will be the first to leverage the technology.

A Meet add-on SDK will let developers embed their apps directly into a video conference. Figma will use the technology to bring its digital whiteboard to Meet.

Google plans to make the APIs and SDK available early next year.

Before the end of the year, people will have the option of creating smart canvas reusable components called building blocks, available only in Docs. The data blocks could include, for example, a to-do list as an option under a project tracker template created by a Workspace administrator.

This year, Google plans to let people control their Slides presentations from within Meet. Also, a speaker spotlight feature in Slides will embed the presenter's video frame in a presentation along with its content. Google will launch that capability in a private preview.

Features scheduled for Chat this year include custom emojis and inline threading that lets people have side chats with others during a group chat. Company executives or managers can use a separate Chat channel early next year to broadcast companywide announcements.

Google also bolstered security in Chat with this week's launch of a data loss prevention feature. Workspace administrators can create custom policies that prevent people from sharing sensitive information. The capability is already available in other Workspace apps.

Other new security features include client-side encryption in Gmail and Google Calendar. The capability provides access control to meet data sovereignty and compliance requirements.

Google will make the capability available to organizations with an Enterprise Plus, Education Plus or Education Standard license by the end of the year. Data encryption is already available in other Workspace apps.

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