Google Workspace is now available to everyone with a Google account, as the company consolidates its workplace software suite across consumer, enterprise and education membership plans.

The update means that all of the company’s three billion-plus existing users now have access to the full Google Workspace experience, including Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Meet.

The company is also launching a new subscription offer called Google Workspace Individual aimed at freelancers and individual business owners.

Rolling out to customers in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil and Japan, the new subscription tier is designed to allow individuals to manage their business within their existing user account and offers booking and scheduling tools, video meetings and email marketing capabilities.

Google has also updated a handful of existing Google Workspace features.

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For example, Rooms in Google Chat will henceforth be known as Spaces. Google is adding new features to Spaces over the course of the summer, which “will evolve into a dedicated place for organizing people, topics, and projects in Google Workspace”. New features include in-line topic threading, presence indicators, custom statuses, expressive reactions, and a collapsible view.

Google’s video chat platform, Google Meet, is also being updated with a new ‘Companion Mode’, which essentially gives all meeting participants their own video tile featuring interactive controls like polls, in-meeting chat, hand raising, Q&A and live captions. Also incoming are new Calendar RSVP options to help meeting organizers better plan meetings when staff are spread between offices and their homes: invitees will soon be able to RSVP with their join location, indicating whether they’ll be joining in via a meeting room or remotely.

Similarly, as organizations look towards flexible or ‘hybrid’ models of working, Google is investing further in Google Workspace security.

For instance, client-side encryption will help keep user data secure in line with data sovereignty and compliance rules – which are bound to get more tangled as more employees go remote. It will also strengthen the security of Google Meet video meetings.

SEE: Google I/O: Google Workspace gets smarter with this major update (TechRepublic)

Client-side encryption is especially beneficial for organizations that store sensitive or regulated data, like intellectual property, healthcare records or financial data, said Google, and can help businesses meet data sovereignty requirements and compliance requirements for ITAR, CJIS, TISAX, IRS 1075, and EAR.

Google Workspace will roll out a beta for Client-side encryption over the coming weeks for Enterprise Plus and Education Plus customers. Client-side encryption will initially be available for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, with support for multiple file types including Office files and PDFs.

Additional security is coming in the form of Trust rules for Drive, which help control how files can be shared within and outside an organization; labels, which classify files in Google Drive and apply controls based on their sensitivity levels; and improved phishing and malware protection against insider threats and user error.

Meeting hosts will also receive new moderation controls like the ability to mute participants and enable or disable the chat function.