The search giant also details new features for its Meet videoconferencing service.

Google’s Gmail is getting a facelift.

Google on Monday announced a major Gmail redesign with new productivity tools that will work across the company’s other apps like Docs and Sheets, aiming to turn the service into a centerpiece for planning projects and collaborating with others. is.

With Gmail acting as the command center, the idea is to bring Google’s different productivity apps into one place. The update brings Gmail in line with competitors like Slack and Microsoft Teams, which make popular collaboration software. But instead of targeting just office workers, Google is bringing the feature to its consumer version of Gmail.

The biggest change is the addition of a feature called Spaces. The tool works similar to Slack channels, letting people collaborate in real time. In Google’s version, people can chat, exchange files, and edit Google Docs without switching tabs.

equipment has been Available from last year to paying customers of Google Workspace, the company’s productivity suite is aimed at businesses, but the search giant said Monday that it’s making the tool free for anyone with a regular Google account. The Spaces feature was previously called Rooms in the paid accounts version.

Space feature in Gmail.

The announcement comes at a time when countries are trying to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and offices around the world are gearing up for an environment where more people work remotely. As such, Google and other tech giants are redesigning their products for a world where people are doing more digitally, at work and from the comfort, such as planning a birthday party or holding a rally, Google Workspace head Javier Soltero said.

“We are working, living and playing in the same places often,” Soltero said in an interview. “There’s a lot of convergence.”

Bringing Google’s consumer and business products closer also means the company is connecting their user bases. Google said Monday that there are more than 3 billion people using its productivity services — including Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar — as either free consumers or paid business customers.

The company also detailed a new feature for its Google Meet software, which is a videoconferencing rival to Zoom. A new Collaborative Mode, which Google previewed at its I/O developer conference last month, seeks to put remote and individual employees on an equal footing even when they’re in meetings together. For people attending meetings in person, they can pull up Companion Mode on their phones to still have access to digital features on Google Meet, like raising hands, polls, and chatting. Instead of dividing all individual participants into one tile, each person will also get their own tile on the meeting grid.

Google also announced a new subscription service for small-scale entrepreneurs called Google Workspace Personal. This plan is intended for individual business owners who have used Google products like Gmail or Drive to build their business, but want to move on to using some of the company’s premium features like customer support.