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Google adds generative AI, video creation to Workspace

The tech giant strengthened its workplace productivity and collaboration platform with new artificial intelligence capabilities and the ability to create videos.

Google on Tuesday rolled out a series of new generative AI-based features for Workspace, including the ability for users to create collaborative videos for storytelling.

The tech giant's moves to strengthen its workplace productivity and collaboration platform, unveiled at the Google Next '24 conference in Las Vegas, follow similar product upgrades involving generative AI by archrival Microsoft as well as competitors including Cisco Webex.

Google versus the field

Workspace, formerly G Suite, includes Gmail, Sheets, Slides, Contacts, Meet and Chat as well as the Google Docs suite for creating and editing content. It competes directly with Microsoft 365 and office software vendor Zoho as well as collaboration and video meeting specialists, including Cisco Webex and Zoom.

With the new generative AI additions to Workspace, Google is reaching parity with Microsoft 365 and Webex, which have already incorporated and released similar features, said Raul Castanon-Martinez, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"My overall feeling is that they are catching up to Microsoft and other players. Although, to be fair, there's always a back and forth between Google and Microsoft," he said.

Video moves, more GenAI

However, the Google Vids real-time video collaboration feature benefits from Google's deep roots in AI research and development and video expertise and might represent something of an advance over video offerings from Microsoft, Webex and Slack for presentation storytelling, Castanon-Martinez said.

"It's probably an upgraded experience," he said.

Google Vids will be released into Google Labs, the tech giant's program for early users to experiment with new technologies, in June, according to the vendor.

Vice president, general manager; Google WorkspaceAparna Pappu

AI capabilities from Google's main consumer large language model, Gemini, have already been available to use with Docs, Sheets, Slides and Gmail, letting users incorporate suggestions from Gemini into their Docs and emails, according to Aparna Pappu, vice president and general manager of Google Workspace.

"Next we're continuing this momentum with a launch of a number of new AI innovations that will make communication and collaboration far easier and more inclusive," Pappu said during a virtual press conference on April 4.

Among the new features are voice prompting in Gmail on mobile and an instant "polish" feature to transform notes into an email draft in Google Meet, now in preview. In June, the company will add support for 52 new languages for meeting translation, including Filipino and Korean. Workspace will support 69 languages.

Sometime later this year, Google plans to launch automatic translation of messages and on-demand conversation summaries in Chat.

Google is also offering AI-powered meetings and messaging as well as a new AI-powered security function, each for $10 a month in addition to the cost of an organization's Workspace plan.

Security and its costs

Using the security tool, IT teams can automatically classify and protect sensitive files organization-wide in Google Drive. The features use AI models trained using data unique to an organization, Google said.

The security option, while an extra cost, could be attractive to enterprises who see the widespread use of workplace collaboration platforms as a fast-growing security risk.

"The security add-on will help customers feel more comfortable about using AI, since security is a key concern for most businesses. Although I'm surprised there's an additional charge for it since security is essential for everyone," said Blair Pleasant, analyst at Commfusion.

They are catching up to Microsoft and other players. Although, to be fair, there's always a back and forth between Google and Microsoft.
Raul Castanon-MartinezAnalyst, S&P Global Market Intelligence

By comparison, end-to-end encryption and enterprise security features are included with all Zoom plans. Microsoft provides what it calls an advanced security feature for Microsoft 365 for all plans other than the $8-a-month base plan, which comes with "basic security."

Pleasant said the new Google screenshare watermark for meetings will make shared items more traceable, and the new AI-powered prioritization and previews summaries are welcome features that save office workers time.

Google also introduced Vertex AI in Workspace. Organizations can extend their data and custom AI models by using the Vertex enterprise AI and machine learning platform-as-a-service to build workflows directly into Docs, Gmail and other Workspace applications.

As for Google Vids, Pappu said it is an all-in-one video editing, writing production assistant.

"It sits alongside all your other productivity tools like Docs, Sheets and Slides," she continued. "And like them, it includes a simple, easy-to-use interface and the ability to collaborate and share projects. All you need is a browser."

Shaun Sutner is senior news director for TechTarget Editorial's information management team, driving coverage of artificial intelligence, unified communications, analytics and data management technologies. He is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of news experience.

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