One of the first major announcements at I/O 2021 was Google’s initiative to offer a more integrated and interactive Workspace experience. The latest “Smart canvas” features are now here, including AI summaries in Google Docs.
Smart canvas is meant to leverage Google’s AI prowess, and new automatic summaries in Google Docs encapsulate that today. They are meant to “provide a brief overview of the main points in a document, so you can quickly parse the information that matters and prioritize where to focus.”
A “Summary” section will appear to the left of a document (above any auto-outline). One is automatically generated, but you can also manually create your own. This feature is “launching today and will be generally available.”
Google Docs today is also rolling out the pageless format first announced in May:
With so many employees moving to hybrid work, with less need to print, pageless format makes it easier for teams to collaborate on documents with wide tables, large images, or detailed feedback in comments. And if you want to print or convert to PDF, you’ll be able to easily switch back to a paginated view.
A core part of Smart canvas is the @ menu that lets users quickly create a checklist or see contact information for coworkers. Google Docs is introducing a new email draft template that lets you collaborate on drafts with others. Once complete, there is an export to Gmail option with the “relevant fields automatically populated.” This is rolling out in the coming weeks
Meanwhile, a new Google Maps smart chip will let you preview an address link in Docs:
When you click on the smart chip, you’ll see a thumbnail with helpful information—like an image of the location in Maps and the address—or click the thumbnail to open a preview in the Docs side panel.
In Google Sheets, Smart canvas is adding formula corrections in the coming weeks to “help you troubleshoot formulas, catch errors, and deliver insights from your data faster.”