Google Workspace and Chat open to all to help manage our hybrid lifestyles

Google Workspace is opening up to all users, expanding access to what until now has been the company's business and classroom hub. Launched last year, Google Workspace saw G Suite rebrand for a more integrated way to access services like Gmail, Docs, Drive, Chat, and Calendar. Now, as long as you have a Google account – even a free one – you'll be able to access Workspace too.

Until now, Workspace has been focused on helping business and enterprise teams organize, as well as hybrid classrooms keep learning in check. However with its expansion to every Google user, the company is also pitching it as a way to manage a busy family too.

From today, it's possible to turn on Google Chat in Google Workspace. Switching between Google's various services and products is far easier, with different tabs running down the left side of the screen. Both individual and shared content can be viewed in the same interface.

It's not the only change that Google is announcing today. In Google Chat, for instance, Rooms are now being rebranded as Spaces this summer, to better reflect the overall service direction. They'll also support things like in-line topic threading, presence indicators, custom statuses, reactions, and a collapsible view. There's now a new subscription option for a single user – Google Workspace Individual – too, including business-friendly features like smart booking services and personalized email marketing. That'll initially be available in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, and Japan.

Companion Mode, meanwhile, is being added to Google Meet. It'll mean everyone has access to interactive content – such as polls, in-meeting chat, hand-raising, and live captions – initially through the web and a new progressive web app that the Meet team plans to release in September. It'll also be coming soon to mobile, Google says.

There'll be new Calendar RSVP options, with the ability to show whether you'll be attending virtually or in a meeting room, and new moderation controls for Google Meet hosts that manage things like chat, presenting, and mute status. Google Meet hardware is being upgraded from September to support all these new features, including the Nest Hub Max.

Elsewhere, security is getting a polish too. Client-side encryption is being added this fall to Google Meet, while Drive is getting trust rules that control how files can be shared both inside and outside of organizations. Drive labels will better flag those permissions and others, and there'll be new phishing and malware protections.