Google better integrating Workspace applications, especially Docs, with ‘Smart canvas’ push

In unveiling “Smart canvas” at I/O 2021, Google called it the “next big step” in the future of work. The goal is to create a more integrated and interactive Workspace experience, especially in Google Docs.

Specifically, we’re enhancing the apps that hundreds of millions of people use every day — like Docs, Sheets, and Slides — to transform collaboration and make Google Workspace even more flexible, interactive, and intelligent. Between now and the end of the year, we’re rolling out new features that’ll make it easier for you to do your work and collaborate with your teammates, wherever you are. 

Google today specifically touts 12 upcoming “Smart canvas” updates, starting with an update to @-mentions. In addition to showing contact information, location, and job title (if that information is available in Workspace), that @ action now shows a list of recommended people, files, and meetings. That will generate “smart chips” that act as document preview “without changing tabs or contexts.” Following today’s launch in Docs, it will come to Sheets in the “coming months.

Another Google Docs update introduces a pageless format to “remove the boundaries of a page to create a surface that expands to whatever device or screen you’re using.” This helps when working with wide tables, large images, or detailed feedback in comments. When printing or converting to PDF, a paginated view is still available.

The assistive writing feature will offer more inclusive language suggestions: “chairperson” instead of “chairman,” or “mail carrier” instead of “mailman.” Google will offer stylistic recommendations like avoiding passive voice and offensive language.

Connected checklists on web and mobile this week will let you assign activities/items to other people with Google Tasks integration. Google Docs will have meeting notes and table templates, as well as emoji reactions in Docs over the next few months.

Coming soon, we’ll also introduce table templates in Docs. Topic-voting tables will allow you to easily gather team feedback while project-tracker tables will help you capture milestones and statuses on the fly. 

Meanwhile, Google Meet will be integrated with Docs, Sheets, and Slides this fall. A Meet button appears to the left of “Share” in the top-right corner with a list of video feeds opening in a side panel. In the short term, you’re able to present content to a Meet call on the web directly from the Doc, Sheet, or Slide.

Meet will also benefit from live translation of captions, starting with English-language live captions translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, or German.

In Sheets, there will be a Timeline view to “better manage and interact with your data,” while more assistive features are coming.

Our first launch will be a timeline view that makes tracking tasks easier and faster. This flexible view allows you to organize your data by owner, category, campaign, or whichever attribute fits best. 

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