Google plans to add an array of new features to its G Suite of cloud-based work applications in 2017.
At the Google Cloud Next event in London this week, the firm revealed the biggest changes in the pipeline and when they'll arrive.
Improvements are planned across G Suite—including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Sheets and more—and range from offline access to files through to smart systems that automate away repetitive tasks.
"We've doubled the end-user launch velocity in this product. Our mission is to help you capitalize, so you can leverage your most valuable assets, the people," said Dennis DeMeyere, of the Office of the CTO at Google Cloud.
Here's what's in store for G Suite in 2017.
1. Calendar redesign - Q4
It looks like Google Calendar is going to get a major overhaul at the end of the year, particularly the web client. On the cards is a redesign of web interface, rich text in event notes on Web UI, side-by-side calendar Day view, the ability to see contact details within calendar view, and easier discoverability of secondary calendars.
2. Gmail smart reply
Already available via Google's Inbox email client, Smart Reply is due to be rolled out to other Gmail users soon. The service automates common responses to email, such as confirming a meeting or lunch request. The more you use the service, the more it will customize the responses based on your messages, so the tone of the automated replies sound closer to your own. Among the millions of Inbox users, one in eight responses that users pick are machine-generated, according to Prabhakar Raghavan, VP of G Suite for Google Cloud.
Also coming is the ability to snooze emails—to hide messages that don't need dealing with immediately but have them pop back up at a later date.
3. Drive File Stream - Q3
Google Drive File Steam will let users make files accessible on a mapped drive on Mac, Windows or Chrome OS desktop. Files will be available as a link to Google Drive or as a mirrored file that is available offline. During the third quarter, Google will also offer the ability to add comments to Office and PDF files stored in Google Drive.
4. Automated meeting room booking for Calendar - Q3
Calendar will gain the ability to to automatically book meeting rooms based on the needs/availability/location of meeting participants, with the ability to suggest both times and rooms and to resolve room booking conflicts.
5. Gmail Add-ons
Gmail add-ons will allow developers to extend Gmail's functionality across web, iOS and Android clients. For example, an add-on might auto-populate an invoice based on information in an email. Currently available in developer preview, Google says that developers from various firms are working on developing add-ons, including from Intuit and Salesforce.
6. Broader Google Cloud Search - From Q3
Google plans to extend the range of data that is searchable within G Suite, extending it to Google Sites in Q3 of this year and to third-party data in Q4.
7. More options in Docs, Sheets and Slides - From Q3
Docs, Sheets and Slides are due various minor tweaks, with the addition of table embedding in Docs and Slides due in Q3 of this year, while in Q4 updates will include template integrations in Docs, Sheets and Slides and 'pivot tables for enterprise' in Sheets.
8. Protected Team Drives - Q4
Google will be rolling out additional protections for information stored in its new Team Drives, with new controls for admins over what files can be shared or printed following the introduction of Protected Team Drives in Q4 of this year. During the same period, Google will also introduce the ability for BigQuery analytics to be run against G Suite admin reports and also to email all Team Drive members from a single interface.
9. Save Hangouts Meets - Q3
Video meetings via the Google Hangouts Meet feature will be upgraded throughout the year, with Q3 bringing bandwidth optimizations, in-call text messaging, 50 person meetings, the ability to record to Google Drive, and more dial-in countries.
10. Jamboard - Q2
Google's 55-inch 4K, digital whiteboard for real-time collaboration, with object and handwriting recognition and full integration with G Suite services, will be available later in May.
- Bad news, Google Hangouts users: Third-party apps will stop working April 25 (TechRepublic)
- The 2017 ultimate guide to Gmail backup (ZDNet)
- 3 apps and services to help your business prepare for the video-first future (TechRepublic)
- Digital workplace update: Why enterprise collaboration is exciting again (ZDNet)
- 5 steps to securely transfer G Suite data when an employee leaves your company (TechRepublic)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.