Google adds new calendar and meeting tool as federal antitrust activity simmers


Google has announced it’s adding a new feature that will help busy users plan calendar events more efficiently.

An extension called “.new” will open up a meeting form without pulling open the whole calendar – users can simply add the information and the new meeting will appear when it’s needed.

“Given how useful I’ve found the feature in the past, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Google adds the functionality to more of its services,” writes Jon Porter at The Verge today. “Gmail is just begging for this feature to be added, and you could even see it being useful for composing new Android Messages if you use its web interface a lot.”

It may seem like a minor innovation, but even smaller technical news at one of these large companies can balance out some of the drumbeat of coverage around issues that have mammoth tech firms like Google in jeopardy, or at least nervous about impending legal and discovery activities.

Legislators are looking to inspect companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon to figure out whether any of their actions constitute monopolistic behavior.

However, as some point out, with Facebook and Amazon both so much in the hot seat, Google has sort of taken a back seat in regulatory focus.

For example, recent Guardian coverage shows the potential for Democratic front-runner Elizabeth Warren’s campaign to target specific activity by top tech companies – but where Amazon and Apple range in the list of concrete examples, Google is often only mentioned implicitly.

“(Warren) has two big objections to the way Facebook and other tech giants exercise their power,” writes John Harris. “One is how they have endlessly been allowed to acquire potentially threatening competitors – so if she got her way, Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp would be reversed. She would also classify big companies that offer their users an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties as “platform utilities”, and if their annual global revenue exceeds $25bn (£19bn), insist they cannot carry on selling their own products via the spaces they host.”

In additional comment on both Amazon and Apple, Harris shows the ways that companies might be accused of “self-dealing” in retail and service markets.

By contract, Google is largely in the space of offering search, creating new features for user interfaces, and that sort of innocuous thing, and we don’t hear much about “breaking up AdWords.”

Look for more as the year winds down.