Even better Google Workspace experience with Smart Canvas

The events of the past year and the necessity to move typical office work online put a lot of technologies to the test and proved without a doubt that cloud-based tools are the way to go. Google Workspace was built around the idea of improving human connection in distributed teams and empowering people to leverage the technology to achieve more and focus on what matters most.

An update just announced at Google I/O 2021 conference, called Smart Canvas is a new tool within Google Workspace that deepens the connection between Docs, Sheets and Slides even further.

Smart Canvas will enhance apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides with new interactive building blocks such as smart chips, templates and checklists that will connect people, content and events into a more seamless experience. It will help people collaborate in context even better, stay connected and focused.

It should be rolling out for Google Workspace users throughout the rest of the year. Let me briefly go through the most important updates announced:

Smart Chips in Docs and Sheets

Google Workspace users are already accustomed to mention other people in comments or Docs by simply typing “@” followed by the person's name. Google extended this functionality. You will be able to tag (or mention if you wish) also other documents, sheets, slides or even meetings this way. Your teammates will be able to quickly preview the associated content from a web browser or mobile, without the need to open new windows. No more changing tabs and losing the context of your work. Google will be adding this feature to Sheets in the coming months.

Table templates

Some examples presented were:

  • Topic-voting tables that will allow you to easily gather team feedback
  • project-tracking tables will help you capture milestones and statuses of projects on the fly
  • A new document template for capturing meeting notes will automatically import any relevant information from a Calendar meeting invite, including smart chips for attendees and attached files.

Pageless Docs

You will be able to remove the boundaries of a page in Docs in order to create a surface that adjusts itself to the screen that you're using. This feature will make it easier to work wide tables, large images or detailed feedback in comments.

Smarter and more inclusive writing recommendations

Google writing assistant will now offer more inclusive language recommendations when it makes sense. This could mean, for example, suggesting to use ‘chairperson’ instead of ‘chairman’.It will also warn you about offensive words and language, as well as offer other stylistic suggestions that can speed up editing and help make your writing more impactful.

Connected checklists in Docs

The new feature of checklists in Docs, which could help streamline your team's workflow by adding actionable tasks you can assign to your colleagues. These action items will show up in Google Tasks, making it easier for everyone to manage a project’s To-Do list. The company said that starting this week in Docs, checklists will be available on the web and on mobile.

Timeline view in Sheets

Here's another great functionality that will help you streamline your team's work. Timeline view in Sheets makes tracking tasks easier and faster. It will allow you to organise your data by the owner, category, campaign, or whichever attribute fits best. It will help you to manage things like marketing campaigns, project milestones, schedules, and cross-team collaborations.

Meet integration in Docs, Sheet, Slide

Apart from the above-mentioned features, the company also announced tighter integration between Google Meet and other tools like Docs, Sheet and Slide. Users can now present their content to a Google Meet call on the web directly from the Doc, Sheet, or Slide. “And in the fall, we’re bringing Meet directly to Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web, so people can actually see and hear each other while they’re collaborating,” Google wrote in a blog post.

Live captions, translations in Google Meet

Google is also introducing live translations of captions. This feature will be available later this year, starting with English-language live captions translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, or German.

Collaboration on files directly in Google Chat rooms

Google is bringing more functionalities of instant collaboration with your team within chat rooms so you can jump from a discussion in Google Chat directly to building content together. You can already work in Google Docs and Sheets within the chat and newly this option will also be available for Slides in the coming weeks.

Assisted analysis in Sheets

Google is also adding more assisted analysis functionality in Sheets on the web. New formula suggestions will make it easier for everyone, not just analysts, to derive insights from data. This will significantly reduce errors and speed up your data analysis tasks.

Seamless 3rd party add-ons integration

Google is making it easier for businesses to connect the apps and tools they rely on to Google Workspace. You can already add e-signatures directly in Google Workspace with DocuSign or use the Salesforce connector that integrates with Sheets. To help people work even smarter, they recently announced that AppSheet Automation is generally available so that you can automate time-consuming tasks—like approving invoices and onboarding new hires—without having to write a single line of code.

In the future, the company is planning to build additional APIs so you can bring the information and actions you need from third-party tools directly into smart canvas elements like smart chips, checklists, and table templates.