ICYMI: 8 G Suite and Chrome Updates from Summer and Fall

These updates and timeline are written as of 10/28

Do you know what’s really difficult to do as an IT Administrator? Trying to stay up to date with Google changes, during a pandemic, in the Summer and Fall. If you’re a G Suite Admin, you know staying up to date isn’t as easy as subscribing to the updates blog. 

In this post, I will review 8 of the (still very) relevant updates Google rolled out in the last 3 months. Let me rephrase, I will review the updates but more importantly, I will discuss the impact the update has on your domain, actions G Suite admins should be taking, and use cases where relevant.

Google Meet Updates

Note: it was hard to not include more Meet updates but I chose the ones that are having unintentional issues or disruptions. If you’re looking for a Meet Roadmap and Timeline, check out my Anywhere School Event Recap post.

(1.) Google blocked anonymous users from joining G Suite for Edu Meets

Summary

Anonymous users (users not signed in to a Google account) can no longer join meetings organized by anyone with a G Suite for Education domain. Note: this does not prevent users from dialing in by phone.

Impact

This addresses the problem of students sharing the Meet link publicly (or to themselves) causing disruptions with access requests. Problem: This will cause an issue if you use Meets with your community (school board, community sessions).

Actions

There is no admin setting for this feature. Admins can request to have the feature disabled by contacting Google Support (it will be a global change). 

Many of our Collaborative members want the ability to turn this ON/OFF per OU within the admin console. We’re directing admins to upvote this feature request on the Cloud Connect Community (you must apply to get access).

(2.) Block users from rejoining a Meet when they’ve been “removed”

Summary

With this update, users who have been “removed” from a Meet are not able to knock or rejoin that same Meet. This update intended to decrease the distractions of unwanted users trying to continuously get in.

Impact (creates a problem with students rejoining)

While the update did decrease distractions from unwanted users trying to get in, it’s now causing issues with students rejoining Meets. Problem: Many teachers are “removing” students at the end of the class. Then, when the student tries to rejoin later, they’re not able to rejoin the Meet.

Actions (possible solutions)

  • Teachers can use the invite function within the Meet to allow the student back in.

  • Teachers can change their workflow to not “remove” the students at the end of class.

  • Teachers can “reset” their Classroom Meet link.

NOTE: Teachers shouldn’t get too attached to their new Meet workflow – there are upcoming moderation controls to be released which may yet again require a new workflow.

(3.) Google Announces Temporary Recordings (to be released “later this year”)

Summary

Google announced Temporary Recordings during the Anywhere School Event. When Temporary Recordings are released “later this year” — Any meeting host can record a meeting and share the recording within their domain for up to 30 days before the video expires. This is for all education domains.
 

Impact

This is an important update because schools are still getting the premium Enterprise recording feature only until Temporary Recordings are released. When released, non Enterprise domains will switch over to this new type of recording and teachers will experience a different recording behavior.

Actions

G Suite Admins need to be aware of this change and be on the lookout. If you are an Enterprise customer you need to make sure you have assigned Staff licenses – if you don’t then they will get dropped down to the Temporary Recording feature.

(4.) Google Chat and Classic Hangouts separate from Google Meet

Summary

This one combines a few updates. To keep it simple, Google Chat and Classic Hangouts merged into one service and the Meet service is now totally separate from the two.
 

Impact

Now you can turn off Chat/Hangouts for students but leave on Meet. Previously, the services were combined so you had to keep on Chat/hangouts for Meet to work.

WARNING: If you turn OFF Hangouts, it will break the ability to use the g.co/meet/nicknamehere method of creating and accessing Meets. The reason for this is that approach is using the Hangouts service (check out the URL it redirects to).

Action

Important: Determine if your teachers and students use the “g.co/meet” method of creating and accessing Meets. Then, you can decide if you want to turn off Chat/Hangouts for users.

Google is aware of this issue and I recommend submitting a support ticket to let them know you’re affected. 

Navigation

G Suite Apps > Google Chat and Classic Hangouts > Click on the top, right

(5.) You can now block apps from accessing G Suite data via OAuth in API Controls

Summary

Admins can now block apps that use OAuth 2. 0 via API Controls (formally called API Access).
 

Impact

Previously, admins could only utilize the API Access Controls by disallowing all apps and then maintaining a trusted list — this was hard to manage so not many schools used it. You can now just block the high-risk apps, without making a drastic and disruption change.

Use Case

You see users are installing TikTok. You block the TikTok app via API Controls & users will see a custom message when they try to install it (authenticate in).

Navigation

Security > API Controls > Manage Third-Party App Access > Hover over app > Change Access

Note: if you know the client ID you can proactively block an app

(6.) New Classic Site Timeline and Admin Migration Tool

Summary

In Google’s latest timeline, Classic Sites will go away at the end of 2021 but it’s important to check out the other milestones that happen before then. What is most exciting though, is G Suite Admins now get a cool, new tool to easily view, change and migrate Classic Sites.
 

Actions

  • We recommend that domains disable Classic Site creation

  • Communicate to teachers about the timeline

  • Use the Classic Site Manager to view sites, email owners, migrate, delete

(7.) Shared Folders in Shared Drives now possible for all users

Summary

Folder sharing in Shared Drives is now rolling out to everyone (Generally Available). Previously, it was only available in Beta. This means if you want to share a folder or set permissions on that folder differently for users, you can (previously, all permissions were set at the Shared Drive level only).
 

Impact

One of the most popular feature requests, users are now able to give different sharing rights on folders within a Shared Drive. This could change the way shared drives are structured and created.

Actions

This new ability will automatically be rolled out to all users, there is nothing to “turn on”.

(8.) Chrome: Remotely Clear User Profiles and Factory Reset Chromebooks

Summary

G Suite Admins are now able to remotely “clear user profiles” and “factory reset” Chromebooks. This can be done for an individual device or in bulk. We started seeing this feature show up in the admin console back in Chrome v84.
 

Impact

With distance learning, this new feature has been a G Suite Admin’s best friend. We all know that most troubleshooting of Chromebooks ends with a wipe and now that is possible remotely, in real-time, and in bulk.

This is in no way a complete list of the important updates from the last 3 months but ones I feel like every G Suite Admin should be aware of. If you feel like this type of information would be helpful to you and your team, learn more about the North American Google Technical Collaborative or watch our August Updates stream, which we’ve opened to the public.

While this post focuses on the Updates benefit of the Collaborative membership, there is also an amazing online forum that 2,000+ G Suite Admins participate in and members also receive discounts on our services and our partner services. Don’t G Suite Alone – Join Us!

  • Melissa Benson
    Google for Education Technical Collaborative Lead

  • About the Author:

    Melissa has been a G Suite for Education Consultant for Amplified IT since 2015. She began working with the Google for Education (GFE) Admin Console in 2008 where she helped implement and integrate G Suite and Chromebooks into multiple K-12 school districts. Now, as part of the Amplified IT Team, she continues to help schools set up and manage G Suite environments with educational best practices with an emphasis on facilitating the North American Google Technical Collaborative.