Google is making changes to its productivity suite again, and some of it may cost you money. Here’s what you need to know.
Andy Warhol once said a big part of Coke’s appeal is that everyone has the same version. “A Coke is a Coke,” he said, “and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”
Google’s email and calendar services, Gmail and Google Calendar, used to be the same way—everyone had access to the same tool. Not anymore, thanks to Google Workspace Individual. You can now buy a better Coke (OK you’ve been able to buy superior Mexican Coke for a long time now, but let’s ignore that so my metaphor works.)
Personal Google users—basically anyone with an @gmail.com email address—can now pay $10 a month for Google Workspace Individual. With that, they get:
- An appointment scheduling tool built into Google Calendar (similar to Calendly)
- An email marketing tool built into Gmail and Google Contacts (similar to Mailchimp)
- Google Meet calls can be longer than an hour (similar to Zoom’s paid plan)
- 24/7 support
This is a potentially compelling package, particularly if you’re already paying for some combination of appointment scheduling, email marketing, and video conferencing software. Still, you might be wondering what these features look like, how this service differs from other services Google charges money for, and whether it’s worth $120 a year.
When Google Workspace launched back in 2006 (then named “Google Apps For Your Domain”) there was a free version. Google recently announced that those free users, until now grandfathered in, will have to start paying. You might think Google Workspace Individual is positioned for those customers, but it’s not that simple. This offering is completely separate from Google Workspace, despite the similar name. You can’t use Google Workspace Individual with a custom domain name, for example. And you can’t manage multiple users, as the name suggests.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s break down what is—and isn’t—offered by Google Workspace Individual.
Longer Calls and More on Google Meet
Google Meet is a video meeting service, most directly comparable to Zoom. That application’s free version offers 40-minute calls, while Google Meet offers 60 minutes for free.
Google Workspace Individual customers can host meetings up to 24 hours long with up to 100 participants. Zoom’s cheapest paid plan, which offers calls up to 30 hours long for up to 100 participants, costs $12.50 a month, so at $10 a month Google Workspace Individual is arguably worth it for this feature alone.
And there are a few other Meet features offered to Workspace Individual customers, as outlined on the Google Meet pricing page. These users can:
- Save meeting recordings to Google Drive
- Offer a call-in phone number for meeting attendees
- Get breakout room, polls, and hand-raising
- Enable noise cancellation
Granted, Zoom is the industry standard for video calls, but I think Google Meet is well worth checking out—especially if it’s cheaper.
A Scheduling Tool Built Into Google Calendar
Maybe the most interesting feature is the ability to set up an Appointment Schedule. You can, in Google Calendar, specify a time that people can sign up for an appointment.
This is similar to, although less customizable than, the free version of Calendly, with the main advantage that you can do everything without leaving Google Calendar. This probably isn’t worth subscribing for, but it’s nice to have.
An Email Marketing Tool Built Into Gmail
Google Workspace Individual users can, while composing an email, choose from a variety of templates.
These templates let you quickly send a professional-looking email newsletter, all from within Gmail.
You can customize the background color, add a custom footer, and add social media links (you can’t change much else, though). There’s also a multi-send feature, which sends a separate copy of each email to different people using mailing lists in Google Contacts. Your readers can unsubscribe from these lists, if they choose.
This is all about as barebones an email marketing tool as you can imagine—there aren’t even user analytics. The main benefit is that you can do all of this without leaving Gmail.
Most people serious about sending a newsletter should look elsewhere. I’m not sure why anyone would use this over Mailchimp, which offers a free version that sends emails to up to 2,000 people, or Substack, or Buttondown, both of which can send a newsletter to as many people as you can get to sign up. Still, it’s interesting to see something like this added to Gmail, and I could imagine it growing into a more powerful tool over time.
Note: Google Workspace Individual Doesn’t Come With Any Extra Storage Space
Google limits free users to 17 gigabytes (GB) of space spread across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. Business customers of Google Workspace get extra storage—the cheapest plan, starting at $6 per user, offers 30 GB of storage space.
Google Workspace Individual, which costs $10 per user, doesn’t offer any additional storage space over the free version. Individual users who want extra storage space have to pay for a Google One account on top of their Google Workspace Individual subscription. The cheapest plan offers 100 GB of space for $2 a month.
How Is Google Workspace for Business Different?
Google Workspace was, until recently, only offered for business users. It was until recently called G-Suite; before that, it was called Google Apps for Your Domain.
The idea was that, for a monthly per-user fee, companies could use Gmail for their company email addresses and also have secure access to Google Docs, Calendar, and other applications. You can’t set this service up unless you own a domain name.
Google Workspace starts at $6 per user per year, which is actually cheaper than Google Workspace Individual, even after you factor in the cost of a domain name (typically $15 a year). This plan also offers nearly twice the storage space as Google Workspace Individual. For this reason, some individual users might want to buy a domain name and set up Google Workspace for Business.
It’s not a bad idea, but something to keep in mind: Google Workspace Individual offers features that Workspace for Business does not. Two of the big selling points of Google Workspace Individual—the email marketing tools and the appointment scheduling tool—aren’t currently offered in the business version of Google Workspace. Is that confusing? Yes. Will it change someday? Probably. But that’s the state of things, at least for now.
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