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Google adds AI summary feature to Workspace

Google adds AI summary feature to Workspace

Google will add an AI-based feature to Workspace meant to bolster employee productivity by making it easier to find relevant information.

The company plans to launch AI-produced summaries in its chat program Spaces in the coming months, and in the video conferencing app Google Meet next year. Google announced several Workspace features and news about Pixel phones, the Android operating system and augmented reality (AR) at its I/O developer conference this week.

The Spaces automated summary feature is meant to show employees the critical parts of a chat discussion without forcing them to scroll through an entire conversation. If a worker wants to learn more about an item in the summary, they can click on it to jump to the original chat message and view it in context. Google earlier this year introduced a similar feature that recaps text documents in the word processor Docs.

Google will add summaries to Meet in 2023, after it launches automated transcription for the app later this year. Google is playing catch-up with video-call transcription, as competitors Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Cisco Webex already offer the capability.

Google said automated summaries will cut down on the amount of time employees need to find vital data. According to a report from consulting firm McKinsey, the average office worker spends about 20% of the workweek searching for internal information. If AI can identify that information, it would free time for more productive tasks.

Chat summaries could be especially helpful for globally distributed teams, Metrigy analyst Irwin Lazar said. Employees working in a different time zone from the rest of the group might find a backlog of chat messages when they log on in the morning.

“It will be useful and a time saver to be able to quickly scan spaces and see highlights of what’s happened overnight,” Lazar said.

Google also plans to use AI and machine learning to improve video and audio quality in Meet this year. The app will automatically enhance video in the cloud, and a portrait light feature will let employees add brightness to certain parts of their video feed. An AI echo-canceling feature will help workers in large, empty spaces be heard more clearly.

Google’s other I/O news included the following:

  • A lower-cost Pixel phone. The Google Pixel 6a will launch July 28. The device is part of Google’s A series of phones, which are budget versions of its flagship Pixel line. The Pixel 6a will include many of the features of the Pixel 6, like live captioning and translation, but is smaller and has a less-capable camera. The Pixel 6a will sell for $450, as opposed to its premium counterpart’s $600 price tag.
  • Pixel 7. Google gave a first look at its upcoming flagship phone’s design but did not provide many details. The company said the Pixel 7 will run on the next generation of Google’s Tensor system on a chip and launch with Android 13.
  • Privacy features in Android 13. Google said the upcoming version of Android will have a unified page for all of a user’s privacy and security settings. Android 13 will force apps to get permission before showing notifications and allow users to limit what photos they share with apps. The OS is currently in beta.
  • AR. Google showed a video in which people used prototype AR glasses to translate their conversations in real time but did not announce a new device. The company also announced an API that allows developers to improve AR experiences in their apps by tying in Google Maps data.
  • Health data sharing. Google and Samsung partnered to launch Health Connect, a set of APIs that manage user fitness and health data collected by phones and smartwatches. The APIs let users share their health data with multiple apps. Apple made health monitoring a selling point for its Watch, and Google and Samsung look to do the same for Android smartwatches.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate other Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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