Google updates for LionMail

Check out this page for highlights of upgrades and changes to Columbia's G Suite implementation, which includes LionMail, Calendar, Drive and more.

G Suite apps currently under evaluation

See our Google Apps for LionMail page for a list of the applications enabled by CUIT outside of the core set of Google services (Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Drive).

  • Adwords
  • Sites
  • Team Drive
  • Jamboard

Recent G Suite updates

For a full report on updates from Google, see the official G Suite Update Blog. Please note that Columbia's G Suite administrators do not offer all G Suite features for a variety of reasons, including security, data protection and support.

What’s changing 

Google is updating the interface you use to share files from Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms on the web. This will replace the previous interface used to share files and manage members of shared drives. These changes will make it easier to share files only with specific people without expanding access beyond what’s needed.

Why it matters 

Sharing files is critical to collaboration. This is especially true now, as more workforces are remote and collaborating on files from different locations. By making it easier to share files with specific people, we hope to improve collaboration while reducing the risk of access by unwanted users. 

Additional details 

We’ve made several changes to the sharing experience. These make it easier to perform common tasks, avoid accidental permission changes, and quickly see who has access to a file. Specifically you may notice:

  • Separated, task-focused interface: The new sharing dialog highlights essential user tasks like sharing a file, changing permissions, and viewing file access. The redesign also visually separates sharing with people and groups from link-sharing. 
  • Quick “copy link” button: We’ve added a “copy link” button to make it easier to get the link without changing link permissions. 
  • Easily see current access: The new interface more clearly shows who currently has access to the item, making it easier to quickly audit and change permissions. 

Rollout pace 

The new sharing interface for Google Drive and Docs editors files

What’s changing 

You can now share higher-quality video with audio content in a Meet video call. You can do this through a new present a Chrome tab feature. Now, when you use this feature with video content playing, everyone in the meeting will see and hear the video and audio being shared. This means you can confidently use videos, gifs, animations, and other media in your meetings.

Why it matters 

Videos can be a critical part of meetings and presentations. As more meetings are taking place online, it’s important that presenters can share smooth videos with audio to all attendees, wherever they are. Situations where you may benefit from high-quality video and audio in presentations include:

  • A business meeting to review promotional videos. 
  • An engineering meeting to share pre-recorded product or feature demonstrations. 
  • Teachers sharing videos as part of a lesson plan to students.
  • Presenting slides with embedded videos or GIFs, or with animated transitions between slides. 
  • Additionally, by adding the ability to present a tab rather than a window or your full screen, we’re providing more control to presenters to make sure they can minimize distractions while they’re presenting.
Additional details 

Present a tab and easily switch between tabs 
With this launch you can now present an individual Chrome tab. When you present a tab, it will be highlighted so you can clearly see which one you’re presenting. If you change your view to a new tab, a pop-up will ask if you want to switch to presenting the new tab or keep presenting the previous tab, making it easy to move between tabs and control what information you share with the meeting. 

Use “present a tab” to share high-quality video and audio 
The high-quality video and audio playback only works when you present an individual tab feature in Chrome (see above) on desktop devices. It does not work if you’re presenting a full window or your whole screen.

Upgrading previous Meet video presentation experience 
Until now, users have been able to play video while presenting in Meet, but may have noticed choppy playback and no audio. Some users chose to use the Cast feature to present audio and video, but that had several limitations as well. This launch will mean users can avoid workarounds and limitations and easily include high-quality video in their meetings.

Users can already present high-quality audio and video to meetings using an HDMI cable with some Meet hardware kits. This will continue to work.

What’s changing

Google Meet is now available in Gmail, which means you can start and join meetings right from your inbox, making it even easier to stay connected.

Start/Join Google Meet shortcut in left-hand navigation pane of Gmail

Why you’d use it

With more and more people working and learning from home, Google wants to make it easier for you to connect and keep things moving forward. With Meet in Gmail, you can easily start or join a meeting in seconds. The goal is to help you follow the flow of the day, seamlessly switching between email and video meetings—whichever form of communication you need.

Additional details

When you start a meeting, a new window pops up with a secure, unique URL. Choosing to join a meeting lets you enter a meeting code (provided by the organizer) or use a meeting nickname to quickly get everyone into an ad hoc meeting. Simply choose a nickname (ex: “catchup” or “kevin-priya”), share it with anyone inside your domain, and type it into “Join a meeting” to get everyone in your meeting.

Once in the meeting, you can invite more people to join.

This feature is currently only available in Gmail on the web with mobile coming soon.

Last month, Google made the advanced Google Meet video-conferencing capabilities available at no cost to all G Suite Basic, Business, Education, and Nonprofit customers. They are extending that availability to September 30, 2020, to ensure businesses, organizations, and educators continue their work during this crisis. See the previous post for more details on these features.

In addition, they are dropping “Hangouts” from the Google Meet name. You’ll start to see this change reflected in the product and across resources over the next few weeks.

Why it’s important

Google hopes this extension makes it easier for our customers to operate during this crisis. They also recognize that as work and learning are increasingly done from a distance, maintaining security and control across your organization is all the more critical. Check out the post on the G Suite blog to learn more about how Google Meet keeps your organization’s information safe.

Last December, Google announced that they'd be turning off less secure app (LSA) access to G Suite accounts, and that you should migrate to OAuth authentication instead. The first phase of the LSA turn-down was scheduled for June 15, 2020. As many organizations deal with the impact of COVID-19 and are now focused on supporting a remote workforce, Google wants to minimize potential disruptions for customers unable to complete migrations in this timeframe.

As a result, Google is suspending the LSA turn-off until further notice. All previously announced timeframes no longer apply. 

This applies to all categories of applications and protocols outlined in the original blog post, including Apple iOS Mail (whether syncing through IMAP or Google Sync). Google will announce new timelines on the G Suite Updates blog at a later date.

Despite these timing adjustments, Google does not recommend the use of any application that does not support OAuth. They recommend that you switch to using OAuth authentication whenever possible for your organization. OAuth helps protect your account by helping Google identify and prevent suspicious login attempts, and allows them to enforce G Suite admin-defined login policies, such as the use of security keys. See the original blog post for details and instructions on migrating to OAuth

To improve the remote learning experience for teachers and students using Hangouts Meet, Google made several improvements:

  • Only meeting creators and calendar owners can mute or remove other participants in a meeting
  • Meeting participants will not be able to re-join nicknamed meetings once the final participant has left

In Google Docs, you can now position an image in a fixed place, ensuring it stays in a certain spot on the page and is not disrupted by text and other elements.

There is also a new sidebar where you can quickly access other image formatting options such as size, rotation, and brightness and contrast settings.

Getting started 

End users: This feature will be available by default. To position an image relative to a page, select the image and from the menu bar below it, select “Fix position on page”. To open the “Image options” sidebar, select the overflow menu (three dot), followed by “All image options”. To learn more about formatting images in Google Docs, see this article in our Help Center.

Google Docs sidebar: text wrapping section

As more employees, educators, and students work remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, Google wants to do their part to help them stay connected and productive with G Suite.

All G Suite customers can use Hangouts Meet today for easy-to-join video calls, but we’ll soon enable free access to more advanced features, including:

  • Larger meetings for up to 250 participants per call
  • Live streaming for up to 100K viewers within domain
  • Record meetings to Google Drive

These features are typically only available in the Enterprise and Enterprise for Education editions of G Suite, but they’ll be available to all G Suite editions at no additional cost until Sept 30, 2020.

Google made several improvements to accessibility features in Google Docs. Some enhancements you’ll notice are:

  • Improvements in how screen readers verbalize content, including for non-text information like comments and suggestions. 
  • Improvements in how Braille displays render content, including symbols, emojis, and other glyphs. 
  • Improved support for navigating through elements such as tables, headers, and footers.
  • Improved caret tracking. 

Quick launch summary

Users often need to see the word count in the documents they write. Instead of going to Tools > Word Count each time you want to view this information, now, you can simply select Tools > Word count > Display word count while typing to continuously display it in the lower left corner of your doc:

What’s changing

Now, when you have an Out of office (OOO) entry on your calendar, a notice of that OOO status will appear in Gmail and Hangouts Chat when people try to contact you.

In Gmail, we’ll show a banner about the recipient being out of office and when they’ll be back in the email compose window.

In Hangouts Chat, you’ll also see a small notification in the chat compose window alerting you that the person you’re trying to message is out of office.

OOO notifications in Google Hangouts and Gmail

Why you’d use it

With this launch, before people even hit “send,” your time out of office is visible in more places across G Suite, meaning you get more uninterrupted time away. As a sender, you’ll also have more confidence that you’re messaging people at an appropriate time.

Additional details

If you’d like to disable sharing of availability information to other G Suite apps, you can do so in Calendar under Calendar settings > Access permissions. Just deselect “Show calendar info in other Google apps, limited by access permissions.”

Quick launch summary

The Google Fonts team has teamed up with Thomas Jockin to create a series of fonts that are aimed at improving reading speed. To learn more about the research behind this initiative, see here for more details.

Example of the new, more readable font, available in Google Suite

These fonts take into account typographical factors, such as size and spacing, that the font developers hope will improve reading speed. This can be particularly helpful for educators who want to leverage new tools that can improve reading among their students, especially those who are sensitive to visual crowding.

We now offer eight different Lexend font families that have varied widths and spacing, so users can choose the font style that’s best for their reading speed.

To access these fonts in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides:

  • From the Font menu in the toolbar, select “More fonts”.
  • Then, search for Lexend and select the fonts to add them to your saved fonts. These will now appear in the “My fonts” list and in the Font menu in the toolbar. 

On/off by default?

  • These fonts will be available by default.

What’s changing

Earlier this year, Google announced the launch of Gmail confidential mode for G Suite in beta. On June 25, 2019, this feature will become generally available and Gmail users will have the option to send emails with confidential mode. Columbia enabled this feature for LionMail on July 1, 2019

Why you’d use it

Confidential mode provides built-in information rights management controls in your emails by allowing senders to create expiration dates and revoke previously sent messages. Because a sender can require additional authentication via text message to view an email, it’s also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active. Additionally, with confidential mode, recipients don’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download their content or attachments.

What’s changing

In May 2019, we’ll make some changes to the settings in Google Groups. In response to your ongoing feedback, we are updating Groups’ settings to make it easier for you and your users to manage and configure groups. Specifically, we will remove settings and features that are rarely used, and combine settings that cover similar functionality. These changes will affect the interface and also the APIs used to manage groups.

Your existing groups may be affected by the upcoming settings changes. When the changes take effect, we’ll update the settings for existing groups. These updates may change how groups can be accessed and used.

Use this Help Center article to see details of these changes and see how you can prepare for the update.

The changes will start to roll out on May 6, and may take up to 15 days to reach all domains.

What’s changing 
Hangouts Meet is launching adaptive layouts that automatically adjust to give you the best view of the people and presentations in your meeting:

The spotlight layout keeps the focus on the presentation or a single speaker. It’s used when you’re in a meeting with just one other participant, when you pin someone, and when there’s a presentation but no active speakers with video on.

The tiled layout shows up to four participants on the screen to make your meetings feel more inclusive. This will be the default for smaller meetings when there is no presentation.

Side by side 
The side by side layout shows up to three speakers in a larger format next to the presentation. This allows you to continue to see the presenter as they speak. This is the default when there’s a presentation and there are active speakers with video on.

The sidebar layout improves on the existing Meet layout by showing several additional participants in the same vertical space and using rectangular feeds to avoid participants on the edge being cropped out. This will be the default for larger meetings when there is no presentation.

In addition to seeing these layouts automatically used depending on the meeting needs, users can select a preferred layout from the Change layout dialog.

What’s changing 
It’s now possible for users to work on Docs, Sheets, and Slides files when your device is offline or have a bad internet connection within Google Drive. You can also preview which files are available offline with a new offline preview mode.

Why you’d use it 
We know it’s important for users to access and work on their files while traveling or when there’s low connectivity. With offline mode, it’s now possible to create, edit, and comment on Docs, Sheets, or Slides files. Any changes made to files while offline will then sync in Drive once the user is connected again.

How to get started 
To work with your files while offline, you’ll need to enable offline access in your Drive settings:

  • From Google Drive, click the gear icon at the top right corner, select Settings > General and select Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.
  • Once offline access is enabled, a checkmark icon will appear in the top right next to Settings (gear icon) and Support (question mark). When you click this icon, you can find the offline preview toggle. 

Additional details 
To make files available offline in Google Drive, right click on any file and toggle Available offline from the menu while connected.

When offline access is enabled, Google Drive also automatically and intelligently makes a certain number of Google Docs/Sheets/Slides files available offline based on how recently you accessed them. You can preview which files are already available offline automatically using the offline preview mode. You can also mark a file available offline, so that it always remains available offline, while in offline preview mode, as long as you are connected.

The Google Docs Offline extension, which is made available by default to all Chrome users, is still required.

What’s changing
We’re launching several new features and tools that will help you create more compelling and stylized reports in Sheets:

  • Guides 
  • Multi-Selecting Objects 
  • Enhanced Pivot Table Insertion 
  • Copy and paste images into Sheets 
  • Formula backed charts inserted from Answers

Why you’d use it
We hope these tools will help you make more engaging and informative reports by making it easier and faster to format charts, pivot tables, images, and more.


  • You can use guides to help you align, size, and position various objects within your sheets. Guides are also helpful in making sure multiple objects within the same sheet are in proportion to one another. 

Multi-selecting objects 

  • To select multiple charts, drawings, and images to move, resize, or delete in bulk, hold down the Control or Shift key and select. 

Enhanced pivot table insertion 

  • When adding a new pivot table, you’ll now have the option to either place it in a new sheet or in a custom location on an existing sheet. 
    • To create a new pivot table, go to Data > Pivot Table and select a data range. 
    • In the dialogue box, under Insert to, select New sheet or Existing sheet, and click Create. Note that if you select existing sheet, you’ll have to select a specific cell location for the pivot table. 

Copy and paste images into Sheets 

  • Recently, we made it easier to add images to your spreadsheet by inserting images into cells. Now, you can copy images from other websites and paste them directly into your sheet. 
    • Simply right click on an image and hit copy, then in Sheets right click and hit Paste to insert the image over the grid. 

Formula backed charts inserted from Answers

  • Now, when you use Sheets Explore to create charts, the charts you insert from the Q&A feature (Answers) will be backed by formulas. This means that charts will automatically update if the underlying data changes, ensuring you always have a fresh chart with the latest information.

What’s changing
We’re updating the creation flow for meetings in Calendar to help you save time with an easier way to schedule.
You’ll see several changes when creating a meeting such as:

  • Peek at calendars and automatically add guests: Now, when you add a calendar in the “Search for people” box, you can temporarily view coworkers’ calendars. Creating a new event then automatically adds those people as guests to your meeting and might suggest a title for the meeting.
  • More fields in the creation pop-up dialog: The Guests, Rooms, Location, Conferencing, and Description fields are now editable directly in the meeting creation pop-up dialog. Once you add your coworkers’ calendars, they’ll load right in the background, making it even easier and faster to find an available time for everyone.

Why you’d use it
People-first scheduling makes it quick and easy to find time with others. You can add rooms, a location, a video conference and add a meeting description without having to click into “More options.”