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Highlights from 2023: Google Workspace Update Recap

2023 brought many new features to Google Workspace, ranging from the launch of Duet AI to the refreshed look of Google Chat. Whether you’re using Gmail, Google Calendar, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets or Slides, there have been updates across every Google Workspace tool to improve the way you work.

Join us as we roundup some of the highlights from 2023:


A short video demonstrating a user sharing their Google Calendar availability directly in Gmail. The video begins with the user replying to an email. The user clicks the new Calendar icon in the bottom toolbar which reveals a view of their Calendar in the right-hand side panel. After selecting the times that they are available, the user clicks the blue checkmark button at the bottom of the panel. Their proposed meeting times are automatically inserted into their email reply and listed in thirty-minute intervals.

For Gmail users, a new meeting-scheduling feature was introduced in July that simplifies the process of finding mutually convenient meeting times. Now, you can propose multiple one-on-one meeting slots in an email, all without leaving your inbox. Recipients can pick a suitable time from the list within the email and a Google Calendar invitation will be automatically generated.

Google Calendar

A short video of a user viewing their Google Calendar on the web. The video begins with the user clicking on the Google Tasks icon in the top bar to switch to a full-screen view of their tasks and task lists. The user hovers their cursor over the left-hand navigation panel and clicks on “Starred” to view a list of all of their starred tasks. The user then clicks on the Google Calendar icon in the top bar to switch back to their calendar.

In Google Calendar, July brought a notable enhancement to the working location functionality which originally launched in 2021. With it, you can now set your work location for a specific period of time, instead of applying it to the entire day, making it easier to accurately communicate your availability with others as you move between locations.

Following the release of appointment scheduling in 2022, several updates have arrived this year to enhance the experience. These include combining your availability from multiple calendars, offering and accepting paid appointments, opening up shorter appointment blocks and hiding or unhiding your appointments in your default Calendar view.

November saw the introduction of a new Tasks view inside Calendar, allowing you to switch between your calendar view and a full-screen experience dedicated to Google Tasks. This view lets you conveniently see and manage multiple tasks – and tasks lists – on a single screen without any distractions.

Google Chat

A screenshot of the Google Chat redesign. In the left-hand navigation panel, there are three new shortcuts: “Home”, “Mentions” and “Starred”. The “Home” shortcut is selected, displaying all of the user’s recent activity across direct messages and spaces in a centralised location. The new Google Chat logo is also displayed in the top-left corner of the screen.

In May, quote-replies came to Google Chat, allowing you to provide some much-needed context to messages in fast-moving conversations. Additional Google Chat statuses arrived in May too, offering more contextual clues about when is the best time to contact colleagues, based on information pulled from Google Calendar, such as upcoming or ongoing meetings.

To keep conversations free from clutter, Google Chat users gained the ability to add hyperlinks to text in June, making it easier to share websites, documents and files without long, messy URLs.

Google Chat also got a fresh redesign this year. It was originally announced at Google Cloud Next ‘23 and started rolling out in November, bringing an updated navigation panel featuring convenient “Home”, “Mentions” and “Starred” shortcuts to find important messages faster. The new Google Chat logo also made its debut, bringing it into alignment with the other Google Workspace tools.

A short video of a user demonstrating how to see the view count for a specific message in an announcement-only space. The user hovers over their message in the “Panda announce” space, clicks on the three-dot menu and selects “See message views” from the menu dropdown. Upon clicking this, a pop-up reading “238 message views” appears. The pop-up also shows a preview of the selected message, who it was sent by and when.

For group collaboration, April marked the introduction of announcement-only spaces. These spaces are designed for one-way communication, allowing you to create a dedicated channel for sharing important organisational updates at scale. Later, in July, Google released in-line replies for announcement-only spaces, enabling members to react and respond to crucial updates. In August, message views were implemented, making it easy for you to see the number of people who had viewed a specific message.

The space membership limit was increased from 8,000 to 50,000 in June, with plans to extend this limit to 500,000 to support even the very largest teams.

Google Drive

A short video of a user moving a file in Google Drive with the new location picker. After the user clicks on the file they want to move, the location picker pops up in a window. Here, they are presented with the new interface including the “Suggested", “Starred” and “All locations” tabs.

The Google Drive location picker, which is used whenever you move files and folders or add shortcuts to items, was updated in July. Instead of a small pop-up window, the new interface is more spacious with improved navigation and intelligent suggestions. It also has “Suggested", "Starred" and "All locations" tabs and other features to streamline file organisation.

October saw the introduction of the “Activity” view, which lets you quickly see and take action on files with recent activity – such as pending access requests and comments – in one place. Google Drive’s default landing page also transitioned to the new “Home” view, giving it a modernised look and making it quicker to find files with personalised suggestions and filter chips.

Google Docs

A short video of a user creating a custom building block in Google Docs. The user starts by creating a table named “Task list”, which includes four columns and clickable smart chips to track task status. They then highlight the entire table and right-click to open the menu, choosing "save as custom building block." A popup appears, allowing the user to name, provide a description and save the custom building block. The user names the building block "Project task list" and saves it. Next, the video shows a blank document with the user typing "@" to access the "@" menu. Scrolling through the menu, the user locates and selects the recently created custom building block to insert into the blank document.

Stopwatch chips came to Google Docs back in February, useful for timing how long it takes to complete a particular task or activity in a document.

May saw several valuable updates, including custom building blocks for frequently used sections of documents, Google Calendar event building blocks for collaborating on draft invitations within a document and variable chips for simplifying tasks like creating and filling in invoices, contracts or other templated documents. Voting chips arrived in June, facilitating quick and efficient consensus-building among collaborators.

Google further expanded smart chip functionality with the launch of third-party chips in June. These dynamic elements enable you to add, view and interact with data from third-party applications in a document without switching tabs.

Google Sheets

A short video of a user demonstrating how to use smart chip data extraction in Google Sheets. The user is keeping track of a set of documents in a spreadsheet. In the first column, four cells contain file chips. Adjacent to it, three additional columns titled "Created on," "Last modified by," and "Owner" are displayed. The user selects all of the chips in the first column, right-clicks to access a menu and navigates to "Data extractions." Upon opening the data extraction sidebar on the right-hand side of the spreadsheet, a checklist is presented to the user, allowing them to choose the desired data for extraction. The user opts for "Creation type," "Last modified by," and "Owner." A prompt appears, requesting the user to confirm that they would like to extract the data. After verification, the relevant data is stored under the corresponding columns and in the same row as the associated smart chip.

Google Sheets became more powerful in May with smart chip data extraction. This gives you the option to pull valuable information from people, file and event smart chips and store it in adjacent cells.

Google Slides

A short video of a user recording a presentation in Google Slides. The video begins with the user clicking on the “Rec” button on the right side of the toolbar. Upon clicking it, the user enters a recording interface where they have access to several recording controls and their video feed is embedded into the presentation slides. The user starts the recording and a three-second countdown begins. After the user finishes talking, they pause the recording and click the “Save to Drive” button in the top-right corner of the screen. The user navigates back to the Slides editor where their recording is displayed in the recording menu.

September saw the debut of live pointers, a feature that lets you view your teams’ mouse pointers in Google Slides in real-time so that you know exactly where they are in a presentation and what they’re working on.

A new, built-in recording tool was also announced this year. This allows you to record yourself delivering a presentation and then easily share it with others, all within Google Slides. It is rolling out in January 2024.

Duet AI for Google Workspace

A short video of a user generating a custom image for a Google Slides presentation with Duet AI. On the right-hand side, the “Help me visualize '' AI feature is open in a panel. A textbox can be seen, and the user types “Giraffe standing in front of the Eiffel tower. Beautiful watercolor” into it. The AI uses this text prompt to generate and provide the user with multiple images of a giraffe standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Duet AI was introduced to the world at Google Cloud Next ‘23. This AI-powered tool, made available in August as an add-on for Google Workspace Enterprise tiers, seamlessly integrates into existing workflows, empowering teams to streamline tasks like email writing, document proofreading, project organisation and image creation. You can also use Duet AI in meetings to enhance your visual appearance and generate custom backgrounds.

Google has already announced more features for Duet AI in Google Workspace to be coming later. For Google Meet, you can anticipate features such as Studio Lighting and Studio Sound to further improve audio and video quality. Duet AI will also be able to automatically generate meeting notes and summaries, and even attend meetings on your behalf.

Looking forward to 2024

There has been a wide range of updates to Google Workspace this year. We look forward to seeing what 2024 has in store. If you would like to discuss any of the updates mentioned above, including Duet AI, drop us an email at info@GeckoTech.cloud.

Looking for Google Meet? Read our dedicated recap here of all the big Google Meet updates of 2023.

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