Google NEXT: Updates Worth Knowing

Now that Google NEXT19 is officially in the rearview mirror and our twitter feeds are no longer inundated with constant photos, videos, and updates from the event, it is time that we consider the impact that those changes may have on our Google environments.

Ultimately, like any live event, a lot of the excitement was just that, excitement from being ‘in the moment’, however, there were some really important updates that were released that the Amplified IT Google for Education consultants have determined are important and will directly impact the EDU space.

There are 6 major Google NEXT updates that I will highlight in this article based on their relevance to school district IT Admins.


As we are all probably aware, G+ in the capacity we have all known for over the past decade, is gone as of early 2019. G+ in its most recent iteration is again about to change and be completely rebranded as ‘Currents’. Currents will be an internal social platform connecting groups of users within an organization. The ideal usage for Currents will be communities created for staff, special school projects, and groups of students. Your school districts pre-existing Google Plus content will be automatically moved over to Currents. At this time Currents is listed for internal Google Workspace domain use only.


Chrome browser controls

New Chrome browser controls have been released and will allow admins to pin, freeze, or roll back Chrome desktop browser versions. This will allow for better control and assists with compatibility issues with sites and web services. Another great update within the browser controls is the ability for grouping tabs together for better organization of student work in Chrome as well as a new password alert feature that will warn district staff when they re-use their Google Workspace password on other external sites and services.

Meet for Google Workspace for Education Plus

For those districts who have already opted for Google Workspace for Education Plus, Meet will now support hosting up to 250 participants in a Google Meet session. This is a big deal for districts who utilize distance learning and it also expands capabilities for staff PD/training at schools.

Learn more about the top Google Workspace for Education Plus features outlined by school districts who have already adopted Education Plus

Captions for Meet

Taking the update for Meet further, another great update to the application is a wonderful accessibility feature, captions. Captions allow everything that is said by participants in a Meet session to be instantly transcribed as text at the bottom of the screen. This feature update further supports distance learning and expansion of staff PD/training.

Captions for Meet

You may find why and how to use Hangout Chats in an EDU environment a useful article

Drive Activity dashboard

Updates to Drive Activity dashboard makes it easier to view the history of a file. Being able to view the sharing history as a Google Workspace user allows users to see who previously had access to a doc or file even though they may not currently be on the sharing list. This insight will assist with investigations, understanding document modifications, and assessing data loss issues.

Comment Trends provides insight on docs and files that have high engagement by students or staff allowing you to promote collaboration techniques and methods that work best for users in your school district.

formatting tools in docs

Managed Service for Active Directory

Google has released Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory (AD), a new Google Cloud Platform service that eliminates the need for onsite hardware as well as the costs that onsite hardware incurs (cooling and maintenance, for example).

Google will look after keeping the Windows servers and OS updated and patched, harden the network and firewall around your AD installment and provide IT departments with resilient options for new projects, backup, and/or extend existing on-site Active Directory to make it more highly available. Connect with Amplified IT’s Technical Support team to get started or to get support on a Google Cloud Platform project.

Learn more about using Google Workspace as your LDAP provider

As we all know, the Admin console is constantly changing and evolving. There are a lot of new and exciting features coming to Google Workspace and we want to make sure your domain is supported in taking on these new features.

If you haven’t stopped to look at your domain recently and dive into your settings and configuration to ensure you are following best practices and are future ready, then now is the time to take action! Connect with one of our Google for Education consultants to learn about all of the Next updates and how you can prepare your domain for all of the new features in Google Workspace!

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  • Kendal Shomura
    Google Consultant

  • About the Author:

    Kendal Shomura joined the Amplified IT team in 2018 after 7 years working in public schools as an educator, Instructional Coach, Technology Integration Specialist, and as a Professor in Masters of Educational Technology program at Touro University. He spent 3 years as a Google Administrator while training staff on how to integrate Google Workspace tools into their classrooms. Kendal’s wide array of experiences with Educational Technology allows him to understand the important nuances of technology in schools. Today, he is a Google for Education Consultant who works to help schools better understand their Google environment and empowers them to configure Google Workspace in the most optimum way for student safety while still allowing for robust usage of the tools.