Google’s business productivity suite is getting its fourth brand in 14 years. This business app suite was originally called “Google Apps for Your Domain” when it launched in 2006, then “Google Apps for Work,” then “G Suite” in 2016, and now it’s “Google Workspace.”
Google says, “Our new Google Workspace brand reflects this more connected, helpful, and flexible experience, and our icons will reflect the same.” Google’s “more connected experience” shipped two months ago in Gmail, which got a merged interface with Google Chat, Meet, and Docs on the Web. For users of G Suite—erm, I mean “Google Workspace”—Gmail was turned into a one-stop productivity shop, with the ability to open chat rooms and documents right in the Gmail interface.
As part of this announcement, Google Meet video chat is also coming to the individual Google document editors (Docs, Sheets, etc). Right now there is only text chat inside a document, but soon you’ll be able to press a video chat button to collaborate.
Along with the new brand comes new icons, most of which match the four-color motif Google has been rolling out across its ecosystem. Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and Meet are all getting new four-color icons. It also looks like Google Chat is getting a new icon, though it’s just green (compare the current Google Chat page to an Archive.org mirror).
Google’s new icon motif looks very Googley, but it also strips icons of any unique color identity, which makes them harder to tell apart. Gmail used to be red, Calendar used to be blue, Drive used to be green/yellow/blue, Docs used to be blue, Meet used to be teal. Now they are all multi-colored with only the shapes to tell them apart. Many of Google’s new icons are like this, and they seem geared more toward being recognizable in an app store search rather than in a user’s app drawer. In an app drawer, every Google app icon will be the same four colors and will be hard to tell apart, but in an app store search, where there is one multicolored Google icon in a sea of competitor results, the Google icon will be easy to spot.
The Google Drive icon used to be cleverly colored to represent the three main Google Docs file types: Google Docs (blue), Google Sheets (green), and Google Slides (yellow). With Drive getting a drab four-color icon, it looks like there is a new icon to represent the various Google file editors: a multi-colored rectangle. It’s really not clear how this rectangle will be used. Google shows it as one of the five main Google Workspace icons but then doesn’t show it in use inside an app. The only animation it gets in Google’s presentation video shows Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Forms, and Google Keep all merging into this icon. Hopefully that just means this is something like the Microsoft Office logo and will be used to represent the suite.
It’s interesting that Google is including Keep in the lineup of apps under the unified rectangle icon, since Keep is the only app here that isn’t part of Google Drive. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Forms all generate Google Drive files, but Google Keep does not. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Forms can all be created and opened from drive.google.com, but Google Keep cannot.
Anyway, expect these icons to roll out across the Web and all your apps in the coming weeks.
Listing image by Google