Tag Archives: Google Workspace

Evolving Google Workspace Add-ons with Alternate Runtimes

Posted by Charles Maxson, Developer Advocate

Google Workspace Add-ons offer developers a simplified, structured, and safe way of integrating your solutions right within the Google Workspace user experience, allowing you to bring the logic and data of your application right within the reach of billions of Google Workspace users. So whether your goal is to help users avoid switching context from their inbox to your application, or to easily bring in data from your solution to Google Sheets, developing your own Google Workspace Add-ons makes a lot of sense to keep users productive, engaged and focused.

While the concept of Add-ons for Google Workspace isn’t new per se, building add-ons for Google Workspace has come a long way since they were first introduced some years back. Originally designed to allow solution developers to extend our collaboration apps: Google Docs, Sheets, Forms and Slides, it’s now possible to create a single add-on project for Google Workspace that spans the entire suite, including Gmail, Drive and Calendar.

The original design created for our collaboration apps also required you to use HTML, CSS and Google Apps Script to ‘hand roll’ elements like the user interface and events, requiring a bit more do-it-yourself effort (aka code) for developers, resulting in more inconsistency across the add-on market. That has evolved as Google Workspace Add-ons adopted Card-based interfaces more recently, allowing developers to simplify and standardize add-on building by leveraging just their knowledge of Google Apps Script.

Introducing Alternate Runtimes for Google Workspace Add-ons

Today we are pleased to announce that building Google Workspace Add-ons has evolved once again, this time to offer developers an alternative to using Apps Script for building add-ons with the general availability of Alternate Runtimes for Google Workspace Add-ons. Announced via an early access program mid last year, the release of Alternate Runtimes is a major breakthrough for Google Workspace developers who want to use their own development stack: hosting, tools, languages, packages, processes, etc.

While Alternate Runtimes enables the same functionality that Apps Script does for building add-ons, the flexibility and the freedom to choose your dev environment plus the opportunity to decouple from Apps Script will likely yield greater developer productivity and performance gains for future projects. This commonly requested feature by Google Workspace solution developers has finally become a reality.

Technically, there’s a little more effort in using the Alternate Runtimes method, as Apps Script does mask much of the complexity from the developer, but it's essentially swapping in JSON for Apps Script in rendering the Cards service-based interfaces needed to drive Google Workspace Add-ons. Learn more about getting started with Alternate Runtimes here or try the five minute Quickstart for Alternate Runtimes to see it in action.

Also note, whether you are just getting started or you are an experienced add-on builder, we have recently released the GWAO Card Builder tool that allows you to visually design the user interfaces for your Google Workspace Add-ons projects. It is a must-have for add-on developers using either Apps Script or Alternate Runtimes, enabling you to prototype and design Card UIs super fast without hassle and errors of hand coding JSON or Apps Script on your own.

Google Workspace Card Builder Design Tool

Further Introducing the Google Workspace Add-ons Cloud API

Included with this launch of Alternate Runtimes for general availability is also the debut of the Google Workspace Add-ons Cloud API, which allows you to completely forgo using Apps Script for managing Google Workspace Add-on deployments using Alternate Runtimes. Unlike using Alternate Runtimes during the beta program where you still needed to create an Apps Script project to stub out your project endpoints via the manifest file, the Google Workspace Add-ons Cloud API allows you to create and manage your add-on deployment lifecycle with a series of command line instructions.

With the Google Workspace Add-ons Cloud API you can create a deployment, install or delete a deployment, get a list of deployments, manage permissions and more. These are straightforward to use from a CLI like gcloud, which will help simplify developing and deploying Google Workspace Add-ons built via Alternate Runtimes. For documentation on how to use the new Add-ons Cloud API, refer back to the Quickstart: Create an add-on in a different coding language example.

Showcase: Alternate Runtimes in Action

While Alternate Runtimes for Google Workspace Add-ons is officially generally available as of today, a number of Google Cloud partner teams have already been working with the technology via our early adopter program. One of those Google Cloud partners, Zzapps based out of the Netherlands, has already been creating solutions using Alternate Runtimes in their work building Add-ons for customers.

We asked Riël Notermans, owner of Zzapps (and Google Developer Expert), whose teams have been developing on Google Workspace for over a decade, to share his team’s key takeaways on Alternate Runtimes. He offered not only his insights, but added a few screenshots of one of their recent projects to illustrate as well. In Riël’s own words: “Now that we can use Alternate Runtimes for Add-ons, it changes how we approach projects from start to finish. Prototyping with GSAO makes it possible for us to quickly draft an add-on’s functionality, creating trust and clearness about what we will deliver. Alternate Runtimes makes it possible to tap into our existing applications with almost no effort. We only need to create a JSON response to push a card to interact with add-ons. Our developers are able to work in their own environment, keeping our own tools and development flow. Here’s an example below using a Node.js Express server project that we used to set email signatures, adding a few routes for the card but using our existing logic. The add-on is used to control the functionality.”

Routing Add-on requests to existing logic

“Being able to update your deployment for local development for live testing, without having to create new versions constantly, drastically improves the development experience.”

Introduces advantage of instant testing of add-ons

“Because the Add-on runtimes has built-in authorization and tokens, it is really easy to safely interact with the users data without building complex backend authentication.”


Maximizing use of existing UI with Add-ons

“In the end, we still offer our users solutions for a great experience with a Google Workspace Add-on, while our developers get to use the tools and processes that make them more productive, capable and accomplished”

Creating Add-ons with Alternate Runtimes allows flexible, fast UI design

For More Information

If you want to learn more about using Alternate Runtimes for building Google Workspace Add-ons, here are some essential links for Google Workspace Add-on resources to get you started:

Google People API now supports batch mutates and searches of Contacts

Posted by Ting Huang, Software Engineer

Some time ago, we announced that the Google Contacts API was being deprecated in favor of the People API, and it is scheduled for sunset on June 15, 2021. To aid in the process of migrating from Contacts API, we are pleased to announce that we have added two sets of new endpoints for working with contacts via the People API.

First, we now have new write endpoints that allow developers to create, delete, and update multiple contacts at once. In addition, we also have new read endpoints that allow developers to search a user’s contacts using a prefix query. Both will greatly improve working with the People API, so let’s take a quick look at how you can leverage these new endpoints today.

Getting Started with the People API

Applications need to be authorized to access the API, so to get started you will need to create a project on the Google Developers Console with the People API enabled to get access to the service. If you are new to the Google APIs, you can follow the steps here to begin accessing People API.

Google profile image

Working with Batch Mutate Endpoints

Once you’re authorized, you can simply create new contacts like this (using the Google APIs Client Library for Java):

Person person = new Person();
person.setNames(ImmutableList.of(new
Name().setGivenName("John").setFamilyName("Doe")));
ContactToCreate contactToCreate = new ContactToCreate();
contactToCreate.setContactPerson(person);

BatchCreateContactsRequest request = new BatchCreateContactsRequest();
request.setContacts(ImmutableList.of(contactToCreate)).setReadMask("names");

BatchCreateContactsResponse response =
peopleService.people().batchCreateContacts(request).execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts. Full documentation on the people.batchCreateContacts method is available here.

Similarly, you can update existing contacts like this:

String resourceName = "people/c12345"; // existing contact resource name
Person contactToUpdate =
peopleService
.people()
.get(resourceName)
.setPersonFields("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();
contactToUpdate.setNames(
ImmutableList.of(new Name().setGivenName("John").setFamilyName("Doe")));

BatchUpdateContactsRequest request = new BatchUpdateContactsRequest();
ImmutableMap<String, Person> map =
ImmutableMap.of(contactToUpdate.getResourceName(), contactToUpdate);
request.setContacts(map).setUpdateMask("names")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses");

BatchUpdateContactsResponse response =
peopleService.people().batchUpdateContacts(request).execute();

Full documentation on the people.batchUpdateContacts method is available here.

Working with Search Endpoints

You can search through the authenticated user’s contacts like this:

SearchResponse response = peopleService.people().searchContacts()
.setQuery("query")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts or https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.readonly. Full documentation on the people.searchContacts method is available here.

You can also search through the authenticated user’s “other contacts” like this:

SearchResponse response = peopleService.otherContacts().search()
.setQuery("query")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.other.readonly. Full documentation on the otherContacts.search method is available here.

Next Steps

We hope that these newly added features inspire you to create the next generation of cool web and mobile apps that delight your users and those in their circles of influence. To learn more about the People API, check out the official documentation here.

Google People API now supports batch mutates and searches of Contacts

Posted by Ting Huang, Software Engineer

Some time ago, we announced that the Google Contacts API was being deprecated in favor of the People API, and it is scheduled for sunset on June 15, 2021. To aid in the process of migrating from Contacts API, we are pleased to announce that we have added two sets of new endpoints for working with contacts via the People API.

First, we now have new write endpoints that allow developers to create, delete, and update multiple contacts at once. In addition, we also have new read endpoints that allow developers to search a user’s contacts using a prefix query. Both will greatly improve working with the People API, so let’s take a quick look at how you can leverage these new endpoints today.

Getting Started with the People API

Applications need to be authorized to access the API, so to get started you will need to create a project on the Google Developers Console with the People API enabled to get access to the service. If you are new to the Google APIs, you can follow the steps here to begin accessing People API.

Google profile image

Working with Batch Mutate Endpoints

Once you’re authorized, you can simply create new contacts like this (using the Google APIs Client Library for Java):

Person person = new Person();
person.setNames(ImmutableList.of(new
Name().setGivenName("John").setFamilyName("Doe")));
ContactToCreate contactToCreate = new ContactToCreate();
contactToCreate.setContactPerson(person);

BatchCreateContactsRequest request = new BatchCreateContactsRequest();
request.setContacts(ImmutableList.of(contactToCreate)).setReadMask("names");

BatchCreateContactsResponse response =
peopleService.people().batchCreateContacts(request).execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts. Full documentation on the people.batchCreateContacts method is available here.

Similarly, you can update existing contacts like this:

String resourceName = "people/c12345"; // existing contact resource name
Person contactToUpdate =
peopleService
.people()
.get(resourceName)
.setPersonFields("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();
contactToUpdate.setNames(
ImmutableList.of(new Name().setGivenName("John").setFamilyName("Doe")));

BatchUpdateContactsRequest request = new BatchUpdateContactsRequest();
ImmutableMap<String, Person> map =
ImmutableMap.of(contactToUpdate.getResourceName(), contactToUpdate);
request.setContacts(map).setUpdateMask("names")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses");

BatchUpdateContactsResponse response =
peopleService.people().batchUpdateContacts(request).execute();

Full documentation on the people.batchUpdateContacts method is available here.

Working with Search Endpoints

You can search through the authenticated user’s contacts like this:

SearchResponse response = peopleService.people().searchContacts()
.setQuery("query")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts or https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.readonly. Full documentation on the people.searchContacts method is available here.

You can also search through the authenticated user’s “other contacts” like this:

SearchResponse response = peopleService.otherContacts().search()
.setQuery("query")
.setReadMask("names,emailAddresses")
.execute();

The scope your app needs to authorize with is https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.other.readonly. Full documentation on the otherContacts.search method is available here.

Next Steps

We hope that these newly added features inspire you to create the next generation of cool web and mobile apps that delight your users and those in their circles of influence. To learn more about the People API, check out the official documentation here.

A guide to Google Meet for parents and guardians

When the COVID-19 pandemic required students worldwide to transition to distance learning, many parents and guardians suddenly found themselves in the role of part-time teachers — and even IT technicians — on top of their existing responsibilities at work and home. If this describes your family’s situation these days, you’re definitely not alone. Many students and schools use Google Workspace for Education for teaching and learning – which includes tools for organizing classwork, like Google Classroom, and for video conferencing, like Google Meet. If you’re new to using Google Meet, we created the below guide to help make things easier while you juggle your many roles at home. 

What is Google Meet?

Google Meet is Google’s secure and easy-to-use video conferencing solution that is available to schools for free through Google Workspace for Education. Educators use Meet to connect with your child one-on-one, to facilitate remote instruction and to hold virtual meetings and conferences with parents and guardians.


Meet works with all modern web browsers (like Chrome, Safari, etc.), meaning you don’t have to install or download software to your desktop computer in order to use it. For those looking to join from a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone, Meet has a dedicated mobile app that optimizes the video conferencing experience for mobile conditions. If you are using Meet on a Chromebook, we recently made significant performance improvements like audio and video optimizations and the ability to handle multitasking better.

How do I join a Google Meet?

There are a variety of ways to join a call or meeting, including joining from Google Classroom, or via a meeting link or invitation that your teacher has shared via email or Calendar.

How does Meet protect my child’s safety and privacy? 

Google is committed to building products that help protect student and teacher privacy and security. 

We designed Meet with industry-leading built-in protections that help keep calls safe by default. Here are a few examples: 

  • Encryption by default:In Meet, all data is encrypted in transit by default between your device and Google.

  • Unique meeting IDs:Each Meeting ID is 10 characters long, with 25 characters in the set, so it’s difficult to make an unauthorized attempt to join the meeting by guessing the ID. 

  • Protection against reusing finished meetings:Students can’t rejoin meetings once the final participant has left, unless they have meeting creation privileges to start a new meeting. This means if the instructor is the last person to leave a meeting, students can’t join again until an instructor restarts the meeting.

  • No plug-ins required:To limit the attack surface and eliminate the need to push out frequent security patches, Meet works entirely in your web browser, eliminating the need to download and update plug-ins.

Meet also gives educators powerful controls to help keep virtual classes safe and secure. 

  • Safety locks: Educators can decide which methods of joining (via calendar invite or phone, for example) require users to obtain explicit approval to join. 

  • Block anonymous users by default:Engaging safety locks will block all attempts to join a meeting from anonymous users (users not logged in through a Google Account), and enforce the requirement that the host joins first.

  • Host moderation controls:Educators can control the level of participant interactivity in the meeting. The chat lock and present lock will let hosts control which attendees can chat and present content within the meeting. Educators can also access these controls on mobile devices. 

  • End a meeting for all participants:Prevents students from staying on after the teacher has left — including in breakout rooms.

How does Meet help keep my child engaged during class?

Over the past year, we’ve launched a number of features to help engage students by bringing some of in-classroom magic to the virtual classroom: 

  • Hand raise, to help students indicate if they have a question or want to speak without disrupting the class.

  • Breakout rooms, used by educators to host small group discussions or working time. Teachers can easily jump between the different breakout rooms before bringing everyone back to the main discussion. 

  • Q&A, allowing students to submit and upvote questions from the teacher for better group engagement.

  • Polls, used by educators to quickly gather feedback from their students, oftentimes using it to identify topics that need more discussion or to test comprehension of a certain topic. 

  • Captions, allowing participants to follow along with live closed captions in Meet. Captions are now available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

  • Tile view in mobile, allowing you to see up to 48 people on a screen when using a mobile device or a tablet. 

  • Customizable backgrounds, to let students and teachers express themselves creatively while in class, and background blur to help reduce background distractions and keep the focus on the participant.

  • Advanced safety locks, to block anonymous users from joining and let teachers control who can chat and present in a meeting. We will launch more controls in the upcoming weeks, like muting all, and ending meetings for everyone.

An animation showing how Breakout Rooms work in Meet.

What’s new in Google Meet?

There are a number of new features we’ve launched in the last couple of months to enhance the learning experience:

  • More controls for educators:Educators can now mute everyone on the call at once so they can keep class on track. And coming soon, we’ll be launching new settings for school leaders to set policies for who can join their school’s video calls, and whether people from their school can join video calls from other schools.  

  • Coming soon, we’ll have Emoji reactions, allowing students to more easily engage and express themselves in Meet.

  • Later this year, Meet will support multiple hosts, making it easier for educators to partner with others helping facilitate the class.

  • Later this year,  meeting transcripts can help students who weren’t able to attend class stay up to date.

An animation showing different colored Meet chat bubbles populating in a transcript.

What additional Meet resources are available to me?

If you have questions or need help, check out our Tech Toolkit video, read our Guardian’s Guide to Google Meet or visit our Help Center page for troubleshooting information. For more tips and resources to help families navigate technology visit families.google. We hope we can continue helping improve the digital education experience and bring parents and guardians along, to support all families through these times.

More options for learning with Google Workspace for Education

During the 15 years we’ve been building tools for educators, we’ve seen the needs of instructors, education leaders and students evolve. We’ve learned that a one-size-fits all approach isn't what educators need from tools like G Suite for Education. Whether you're in a rural elementary school, urban university or homeschool setting, our technology and tools should adapt so you can focus on what matters most: teaching and learning. That's why we're making a few changes to provide you greater choice and flexibility in selecting the best tools to empower your institution.

Introducing Google Workspace for Education

Today we’re introducing the next era of G Suite for Education: Google Workspace for Education. Google Workspace for Education includes all the products you already use, like Classroom, Meet, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and many more. More than 170 million students and educators worldwide rely on our suite of tools. Everything you need to teach, learn, connect and share will remain all in one place, accessible from anywhere on any device. To meet the diverse needs of institutions around the globe, from Pre-K to PhD,  it will now be available in four distinct editions instead of just two.

Our free edition G Suite for Education will be renamed to Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals. If you’re currently using this edition, you won't see any changes besides a new name and new features. We'll keep building new solutions for this free version by listening closely to educators and their needs.

Institutions that need more powerful security tools or that want to expand the teaching and learning tools available to their instructors can extend the capabilities of Education Fundamentals to meet their specific needs with one of our paid editions: 

  • Google Workspace for Education Standard builds on Education Fundamentals to provide institutions with enhanced security through Security Center, greater visibility with tools such as advanced audit logs and more controls like advanced mobile management to make online learning even more secure.

  • The Teaching and Learning Upgrade builds on Education Fundamentals or Education Standard to enhance educators’ instructional impact by providing advanced video communication capabilities in Google Meet, features to enrich class experiences in Classroom and tools that guide critical thinking and academic integrity with originality reports.

  • Google Workspace for Education Plus (formerly G Suite Enterprise for Education) builds on Education Fundamentals, Education Standard and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade. This is the ultimate edition for a comprehensive solution with advanced security and analytics, teaching and learning capabilities and more.

Education Fundamentals and Education Plus are already available today and institutions will be able to purchase Education Standard and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade starting  April 14, 2021. Institutions that already purchased G Suite for Enterprise for Education will start to see the new edition name, Education Plus, in their admin console and will automatically get all the features of Education Plus.

For a complete comparison of our Google Workspace for Education editions, visit our website. We’re always expanding the capabilities of all our offerings. In the last year alone, we’ve added dozens of free features such as hand-raising in Google Meet, rubrics in Classroom and grammar suggestions in Docs. And we’ve continued to heavily invest in our premium offerings by launching over 25 new features in 2020 to expand our advanced security controls and enhanced collaboration tools.

Introducing a new storage policy

Google has traditionally offered unlimited storage to qualifying schools and universities for free. However, as we’ve grown to serve more schools and universities each year, storage consumption has also rapidly accelerated. Storage is not being consumed equitably across —  nor within — institutions, and school leaders often don't have the tools they need to manage this. To support schools into the future and ensure fair distribution of this valuable resource, we will be implementing a new pooled storage model and helping admins and school leaders manage their storage. Nothing is changing today and we expect that more than 99% of institutions will be within the pooled storage provided by the new policy.


We remain committed to providing all institutions around the world with a best-in-class experience, including ample free storage to support quality educational experiences. The new storage model will provide schools and universities with a baseline of 100TB of pooled cloud storage shared across all of your users — more than enough storage for over 100 million docs, 8 million presentations or 400,000 hours of video. This policy will go into effect across all Google Workspace for Education editions for existing customers in July 2022 and will be effective for new customers signing up in 2022. To empower admins to adapt to this model and optimize their storage, we will provide tools to identify and manage how storage is used and allocated far in advance of the policy going into effect.

We will contact impacted institutions directly in the coming weeks to discuss a range of options for getting the storage they need. Large institutions will be provided supplemental storage later this year and all schools can gain additional storage through Education Plus and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade. For details on how to prepare for this upcoming change or to learn more about how you’ll be able to increase the storage pool for your institution, please visit our Help Center

What’s next for Google Workspace for Education

We’re investing even further in Google Workspace for Education with dozens of new features on the way to support the needs of institutions. For example, saved drafts in Google Forms are coming to Education Fundamentals and Google Meet meeting transcripts are coming to the Teaching and Learning Upgrade. Education Plus will get both these features, as well as Classroom roster syncing. Stay tuned for more news throughout 2021.

Choice, flexibility and simplicity will continue to be guiding pillars for Google Workspace for Education, now and in the future. Whichever edition is right for you, we hope our tools keep empowering your school community to better collaborate and manage classes efficiently and securely.

Google Meet and Duo help you share moments that matter

Without a doubt, 2020 was the year of video calling. And for us, that meant making sure every student, team, and family could jump on a call from any device and have a reliable, safe experience. Google Duo and Google Meet hosted over one trillion minutes of video calls globally. For perspective, that’s equal to more than 18 billion hour-long virtual workouts in a single year! 

Here’s a recap of what we’ve done so far.

Productive and engaging meetings at home, work, and school 

A Google Meet meeting with a slide presentation about broccoli and baby carrots.

In 2020, Meet was put to the test. Our team had to really think through how virtual meetings could bring the key part of what in-person meetings provide: human connection. We launched new features like 49-tile layout, noise cancellation, background blur, and low-light mode plus live captions in five languages to help everyone follow along on the call. 

Earlier this year, we made Meet free for everyone. We also announced that with your Gmail account, Meet calls are unlimited through March 31, 2021 so that families can enjoy their holiday traditions without interruptions. Speaking of Gmail, we added a Meet tab in Gmail, so that with one tap, people can jump from an email to a video call. We also brought Meet to Nest Hub Max and Chromecast to help people get up, move around, and have hands-free calls at home. 

In large group settings like team all-hands or a classroom, it gets harder for people to speak up and to engage everyone on the call. With Meet, participants can use Q&A and hand raising tools, polls and breakout rooms. Organizations and moderators have more control too, keeping their meetings and participants safe, including advanced anti-abuse features, that allow for an enjoyable, safe experience for all. And in 2021, as many companies evaluate a flexible working model, we’ve designed Meet to work with our Series One hardware kits, created to deliver inclusive audio and video clarity that makes you feel like you're all together. So whether you're a Google Workspace subscriber relying on Meet's enterprise-grade functionality, or using Meet’s free version to safely connect with others near and far, Meet has you covered.

Fun experiences in your video calls

A Google Duo video call using holiday reindeer effects.

Being helpful means being there for the moments big and small. Though the pandemic kept me physically apart from many family members, I felt like they were with me and my family through virtual dinners, holidays like Thanksgiving, and even school band practices with Google Duo. At the end of the day, Google Duo makes it simple to go from texting each other to getting right on a video call.  In a year of virtual get-togethers, Google Duo was there to help make video calls more fun: doodle on video calls, magically transform into an astronaut or a cat, and spread laughs and cheer this holiday season with our wide portfolio of AR effects that change based on your facial expressions and move with you around the screen. And with Moments, you can capture the fun (and the embarrassing moments!) to relive the memory afterwards. 

With so many families having to work on the frontlines, our team was focused on ensuring calls could be connected with the highest quality even in low bandwidth connections. Google Duo is available on Android, iOS, tablets, computers, Android TV, smart speakers and smart displays.

Google Meet and Google Duo were built with an emphasis on privacy and security, to keep your calls and meetings safe and your information private. 

We hope that our work so far continues to help people stay in touch during this holiday season, and we’re looking forward to connecting more families, friends, students, teachers and teams in 2021 and beyond. 

How to make and share digital holiday cards

December 24 is the one of the few days my very large family all gets together. We have dinner and drinks, open gifts, play with the dogs, entertain the babies...it’s chaos, but the best kind. It’s also when we all get to hear what everyone’s been up to, and relive some of our favorite memories. 

This year, of course, we’ll each be celebrating with our immediate households instead of gathering as a large group. But in advance of Christmas Eve, I’m collecting photos and videos to create a special slideshow—sort of like a digital holiday card—we can all watch together via Google Meet. 

If you’re interested in doing something similar, here’s how I plan on using Google Workspace  (in particular, Google Meet and Google Slides) to put everything together. 

Step 1. Decide what you want to include. You could go the traditional holiday card route and share what you’ve been up to this year, but there are tons of other options. You could include photos of your holiday decorations you want friends and family to see, or maybe a list of favorite recipes you’ve been making. Personally, I’m going to include some favorite holiday memories as well as short videos and old photos. 

Step 2. Next, open Google Slides and select New Presentation. You can use templates, or start with a blank slate. I started from scratch and chose a dark blue background. I also experimented with creating some visual elements by choosing the Shape icon on the horizontal toolbar.

Images showing Google Slides open with a dark blue background and shape created trees and stars on the slide.

Step 3. For a little help with the design, I searched for holiday-themed graphics with transparent backgrounds and found some great icons and illustrations. Using Google Search, you can make this even easier by clicking Images and then Tools to select what type of image you want; under Type, you’ll see an option for “Clip Art.”

Animated GIF showing a dark blue slide with trees and stars and clip art of an pink ornaments and the words "let's celebrate!" being placed on the slide.

Step 4. After creating some slides, you can start pulling in photos and videos. I’m going to include some slides with photos of holiday memories, including these two photos of my sisters and myself visiting Santa. And for a more traditional holiday card approach, you can choose to add a text box and write a letter about your year. You can even add audio to a slideshow, and feel free to play around with animations.

Image showing a dark blue slide and two photographs of small children with Santa being inserted onto the slide.

Step 5. Once you’ve finished your “card,” you have a few options on how to share it. You can download it as a PDF or PowerPoint, or send a Drive link so anyone can view it or add to it if you want to make it a group project. You can even publish it to the web. I plan on hosting a virtual Christmas video get-together, and I’ll present my “card” in Google Meetand “open” it with friends and family. 

However you choose to make your digital “card,” you can be sure it won’t get thrown away anytime soon. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even start a new holiday tradition. 

Live captions come to Meet in four new languages

This year has marked a dramatic shift in how many of us work, learn and stay in touch with one another. And as many of us learn to embrace remote tools and virtual communication for the first time, it’s incredibly important to have inclusive, accessible and fair virtual meetings, whether you’re planning a return to the office, going fully remote or using a hybrid model, with some people together in person and some remote. 

For years, Google has focused on building products that help level the playing field. Google Meet, for example, uses speech-to-text technology to provide live captions in meetings; this helps participants who may be deaf or hard of hearing follow along and stay engaged. We introduced live captions in English last year, and starting today, we’re expanding live caption support to four additional languages: French, German, Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish (Spain and Latin America).

More inclusive video calls

We know from our work with teachers and parents over the years how essential caption tools can be for students with learning disabilities, as well as English-language learners in both K-12 and higher education. Professional development experts often encourage the integration of this technology to make lessons more accessible, especially in the time of COVID-19. We’ve heard from Meet users about how helpful it can be to not only see who is speaking and view their expressions, but also read the text of what they are saying. By expanding live captions to more languages, we can help more students feel empowered to participate, and help more teachers share a space that is both accessible and inclusive. In addition, we’ve made captions settings “sticky,” so they’re even easier to use. This means that if you turn them on or off during a meeting, your preference will be saved, along with the chosen language, for future meetings.

Live captions in Spanish, French, German and Portuguese will begin rolling out to Meet web users across all editions starting today. Learn more about the rollout in our Google Workspace Updates blog.

Live captions in Meet in new languages

Making large meetings easier for more people

Earlier this year, we introduced breakout rooms in Meet to help educators create dedicated spaces for more focused discussions and track student engagement with attendance reports. We’ve continued to improve these experiences and have also made them available to more Google Workspace editions so that organizations can use group discussion formats. Below are the latest updates to these large meeting features that help organizations increase participation and engagement during a call. 

  • Breakout Rooms:A new countdown timer helps moderators keep everyone on task. Moderator requests call on the moderator to join a breakout room if participants need help or have a question, and dial-in participants and anonymous users can now participate in breakout rooms. 

  • Attendance Reports:Viewership data is now available for live streamed events like virtual all-hands meetings, and new advanced settings provide admins and hosts with additional controls over attendance reports.  

  • Hand raising:Participants can now let you know if they have a question or indicate that they would like to speak by raising their hand. In large meetings, this helps to increase participation while not disrupting the flow of the conversation and helps to prevent people from interrupting one another.

Staying connected over the holidays

As you turn to video to connect virtually with your loved ones this holiday season, Google Meet will continue to offer unlimited calls (up to 24 hours) in the free version through March 31, 2021 for Gmail accounts. This way, you can have enough time to keep up your holiday traditions virtually—and not get cut off before dessert.

Enhancing Add-ons in Gmail with Compose-time functions

Posted by Jon Harmer, Product Manager, Google Workspace

Google Workspace Add-ons can already do lots of cool things in Gmail. In addition to providing a way to interact with the other apps that you use every day, from the right hand sidebar as you read a Gmail message, Google Workspace add-ons can also provide another integration point: when you are composing new messages or replying to existing ones. This allows Google Workspace add-ons to make it easier for you to work with multiple applications when you are working on your daily routine of reading and responding to email.

More ways of creating

Previously, the only way a developer could modify the draft of a message in Gmail was by inserting content at the user’s cursor. But we have enhanced this functionality, and now you can enable your add-on to modify the To, CC, and BCC fields, the Subject Line, and you can insert content into the top or bottom of the message the user is composing.

This opens up a number of interesting possibilities. You could use the add-on to BCC your CRM, which allows you to log that message to the appropriate CRM record. Or you could insert a footer to the message or a tag in the subject line depending on who the message is being sent to. You can even insert message templates into the top of the email and help users to compose messages in order to give them a nicer look and feel.

Enhancing Add-ons in Gmail with Compose-time functions  gif

Convenient and secure

These enhancements to Compose Actions are a new feature of Google Workspace Add-ons, which means the moment you authorize action with the feature, they will work in Gmail across mobile and web. Google Workspace admins can also easily allowlist the add-ons they want to enable for their organization.

Try Compose Actions today

Google Workspace and Gmail users can check out the Google Workspace Marketplace to find and install add-ons, with more compose actions coming soon. Developers can also consult our documentation to build their own.

Sign up for early access programs

If you want to subscribe to news & updates about the Google Workspace developer platform or sign up to be considered for any of our Early Access Programs, click here.

9 Chromebook and G Suite for Education features to make learning more accessible

Around the world, students with disabilities and diverse learning needs have been learning remotely, and teachers are finding new ways to practice inclusive teaching. In South Korea, Ryu Changdong, a blind teacher at Seoyun Middle School, when switching to online learning, struggled to gauge his students’ level of interaction with the lessons. While teaching remotely, he turned to Google Forms for quick surveys, knowledge checks and feedback before every lesson to help fill the void after not being able to rely on verbal clues like he would in class- and then used that feedback to inform his planning for the next lesson. In every school that’s using Chromebooks and G Suite for Education for learning, students with disabilities are also benefiting from tools that help them read, listen, and connect with classmates and teachers.


In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we’re shining a light on improvements to Chromebook and G Suite for Education accessibility features.

1. More colors for cursors on Chromebooks

To help students see cursors better on Chromebooks, they can choose from seven colors—red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta and pink—in addition to default black. They can also make the cursor size bigger for more visibility. To change cursor sizes, go to the “Mouse and touchpad” section of Settings. 

02-cursor-color-change@2x.gif

2. Select-to-speak and ChromeVox improvements

To make it easier to focus on the spoken text, students can shade background text that is not being spoken aloud using Select-to-speak. This can be helpful for people with low vision and learning disabilities like dyslexia. To enable this select-to-speak feature, search for “Select-to-speak settings” within Settings

Voice Switching automatically changes the screen reader’s voice based on the language of the text being read, providing more clarity for pages containing multiple languages. We’ve also added Speech Customization, Smart Sticky Mode, and improved navigation in ChromeVox menus. Search for ChromeVox in Settings to try these new features. 

SS GIF.gif

Use Select-to-speak on Chromebooks.

3. Accessible test-taking for students on Chromebooks

Administrators can set Chromebooks into kiosk mode, so an exam app can run in full-screen mode on a device. When using kiosk mode for testing, Chromebook accessibility features are now more readily available and customizable- like screen readers, magnification, and more. And some testing providers like Pearson make it possible to access third-party accessibility tools from partners like Don Johnston and Texthelp. Later this year, we'll add the ability to set device accessibility policies so students with disabilities can use personalized accessibility settings. We also enabled the use of accessibility features built into Chromebooks when using locked mode in Quizzes in Google Forms, along with tools from partners mentioned above.

4. More support for braille in Google Docs

Students can use a braille display to read and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings. Now, with several improvements to braille support in Google Docs, like new keyboard shortcuts, faster typing echo and screen reader navigation, improved handling of punctuation and spaces, and more.

5. Live captioning in Google Meet

Live captions help make meetings more accessible by reducing barriers among students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, regardless of whether they’re participating remotely or in person. And now, captions are rolling out in Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.

6. Smart to do's in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

In Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, when you use comments to assign tasks or action items, suggested action items will appear based on the content in your file. This is helpful for working quickly and making sure follow ups are noted.

7. Work hands-free in G Suite for Education

Students can use voice commands to carry out actions in G Suite such as navigating, selecting, and editing in Google Docs, sending emails in Gmail, and joining or leaving Google Meets. 

8. Closed captions in Google Slides

With this Google Slides feature, everything students and teachers say during a presentation in Slides can be shown as a caption at the bottom of viewers’ screens. It’s a helpful feature for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and can likely help all users better absorb a presentation’s content.

Perz GIF.gif

Use closed captions in Google Slides.

9. Live edits in Google Docs

Live edits are accessible through screen readers. This includes announcing changes, reading edited text, and also naming who’s doing the editing.

Where to get support

Read our Guardian's Guide for advice on using Chromebooks and G Suite for Education for learning from home. For additional support, check out Teach from Anywhere and the Chromebook accessibility hub.