Google Spaces is a group discussion and messaging app that’s also packed with cool social features. It’s like an amalgamation of WhatsApp, Chrome, and Slack.
But what exactly can it do? And why should you be using it? In this article, I’m going to explain why you need Google Spaces in your life right now.
What Is Google Spaces?
The free-to-use Google Spaces app was launched in May 2016. Within the app you create “spaces”, each of which can be dedicated to a specific project, group of friends, or simple to-do list.
Google Chrome, Google Search, and YouTube are built into it and allow you to find and share content without leaving the app itself.
There are four types of content that can be shared in each space:
- Links — URLs are automatically embedded.
- Videos — YouTube videos are directly integrated for mobile users. If you’re on desktop, you can search in the YouTube database and access your recently watched videos.
- Photos — You can post straight from your camera roll or from Google Photos.
- Text — Plain text, without formatting.
Why Do You Need It?
I know what you’re thinking: “It sounds good, but why do I need to install it?” Here are six reasons why you should hit the download button on those apps.
1. It’s Not Really a Social Network
Social media can be annoying. If you take away the baby photos, celebrity rants, and racist trolls, there is often not much left. I’m a strong advocate of deleting/unliking as many Facebook friends and pages as you can get away with. It’ll quickly improve your news feed and give you a much more enjoyable experience.
Despite all the great social features in Spaces, it is not a regular social network. The content you post is not automatically shared around the world, you cannot follow or be followed, you’re not going to get uninvited participants gate-crashing your conversations, and you won’t be inundated with childish memes.
2. Activity View
Just because Spaces isn’t a social network, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like a social network.
Take the Activity View, for example. It feels and acts like your own personal Twitter feed. Principally, it’s a notification feed, but once you populate your app with lots of content and Spaces, it’s more like a rolling log of all the projects and information you care about.
If you’re on desktop, the Activity Feed is pinned to the right-hand side of your screen and requires a manual refresh. On mobile, it updates automatically.
At the moment, you probably use the YouTube app to find and watch videos, the Chrome app to surf the net, and (the memory-intensive) Facebook Messenger to chat with your friends.
You can stop using them right now. Spaces gives you a way to do all those things from one central hub.
On mobile, just hit the big blue button at the bottom of the app and you’ll be shown a Google Search box. Enter your query and choose whether you want to search the web, YouTube, or images, or enter simple text. From the results page, you can either view the content or add it to a space for sharing/revisiting later.
The app also maintains an easy-to-search history of every piece of content you’ve ever added. It makes it easy to revisit old links and videos in the future.
4. Get Rid of Pocket and Todoist
Spaces don’t have to be shared areas; you can make a private space that’s just for you. This opens a world of possibilities that’ll allow you to dump even more apps that provide a similar function.
For example, why not make a space that’ll replace Pocket? You can share any fun or important pages you come across into the corresponding space. Even if you don’t use Chrome, this will still work. You can add content into Spaces from any other app using your phone’s “Share” function.
The same process can be extrapolated out into lots of ideas. How about a Space that’s just for your to-do lists? Or shopping lists? Or brainstorming ideas for work?
5. No One Is Left Out
If you’re using Facebook or WhatsApp to coordinate a presentation with colleagues or plan a holiday with friends and family, you always hit the same snag: someone doesn’t use one of the services in question. Perhaps it’s an older family member who doesn’t have a smartphone, or it’s a privacy-conscious friend who refuses to sign up for a Facebook account.
If you have a Google account (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t have at least a Gmail account these days?), there is no sign-up process. Just install the app or navigate to the web page and enter your Google password.
6. Better Conversations
Conversations are a central component of Spaces, but not in the same way as they’re central to WhatsApp, Hangouts, or Messenger.
Spaces is focused on topics rather than people. It’s a way to collate information on a certain subject, then allow those with a vested interest in the topic to have their say on the content. It’s not for independent thoughts and off-the-cuff comments.
Ultimately, Google sees the app being used by small groups of friends, co-workers, or interest groups, giving them a better space in which to further their agendas.
What Will Spaces Become?
The beauty of the Spaces is it can be so many things. You can use it exactly the way you want to. Who knows how Google will develop the app in the future, but at moment it’s Google Search, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and Google+ all rolled into one.
I’d love to know all the different ways you’re using the app. What features are most appealing? What is missing? How do you see the app’s future? Perhaps most importantly, is it here to stay?
As always, you can leave your thoughts, opinions, and ideas in the comments box below.