Google kicked off its Google I/O Developer event this afternoon with a set of new collaborative workspace tools, which it’s calling, as a group, “Smart Canvas.” The company demonstrated using how Smart Canvas works for brainstorming and project planning, showing how users could drop in ideas about an upcoming launch, share their thoughts, work on documents together, join Google Meet calls and solve problems together.
The company says it’s enhancing its everyday collaborative documents, like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, with a dozen some new features, as a part of its effort in the Smart Canvas new product experience.
Currently, when users @mention others in a document, a smart chip will pop up, displaying that person’s location, job title and contact information. Smart chips will also now appear for recommended files and meetings in Docs, and will soon roll out to Sheets. This will make it easier for collaboratives to scan the associated, linked documents, as well as people, without having to switch apps to see the information.
Google has also improved the insert link experience to show relevant, intelligent suggestions for Drive files, headings and bookmarks within your document, based on the highlighted text where you’ll insert the link.
And Google’s assisted writing feature will now offer more inclusive language recommendations as you write — like that you use the word “chairperson” instead of “chairman,” for example.
Other updates include a pageless format in Docs to remove page boundaries, emoji reactions in Docs, the ability to import info from Calendar meeting invites, connected checklists in Docs that let you assign items to other people and see these action items in Google Tasks, Table templates in Docs, a timeline view in Sheets, more assisted analysis functionality in our Sheets, the ability to create Docs, Sheets and Slides from Google Chat rooms, and more.
One of the more interesting changes, however, was support for live captions and translations in Google Meet, and the ability to now present your content to a Google Meet call on the web directly from your Doc, Sheet or Slide. This puts Google in competition with other meeting transcription services, like Otter.ai.
The updates paint a picture of Google’s aim to make its workspace apps connect more seamlessly, instead of being separate components — that helps to lock users inside Google’s walled garden, and makes it more difficult to swap out one of Google’s workspace apps for a competitor.
Today the Smart Canvas update is rolling out features that include the ability to insert smart chips for Docs, Sheets or Slides files, other Google Drive files, and Calendar events; creating checklists; and inserting links more easily with intelligent suggestions in the insert link dialog box. Other features will come in the months ahead.