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printed June 24, 2017
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Google Revamps Gmail, Drive, Hangouts with Businesses in Mind

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Mar 10, 2017, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Google this week made significant change to its core productivity suite, including its email, online storage, and messaging tools. Gmail gains support for add-ons from the G Suite Marketplace, which will let third-party companies create small apps that can hook into an enhance Gmail. Google Drive earned a major overhaul. The new Drive now includes Team Drives for shared work spaces, Google Vault for protecting sensitive data, Drive File Stream for integrating with existing apps and tools, and Quick Access for advanced search powered by machine learning. Google Hangouts sees what is perhaps the most visible change, as Google split the messaging service in two. Moving forward, Hangouts' two major functions will be covered in separate applications, Google Meet and Google Chat. Meet is a video conferencing tool that Google says works via shared links; it doesn't require accounts, plugins, or downloads, and is accessible from PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. Further, Meet integrates with Gmail, Google Calendar, and other Google services. Google Chat takes features from Google's other services and packs them into a more powerful messaging app. For example, it supports virtual rooms for team conversations and works with Google Drive, Docs, and Photos for sharing files directly with the group. Chat also gains access to bots and third-party applications. The new tools will become available over time, according to Google. Hangouts Meet is available immediately, but Hangouts Chat is only being offered through an early adopter program. Google didn't detail how these changes will impact mobile users, but it's safe to assume many of the features will eventually be accessible from smartphones.

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