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 update.
Now, 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.
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 sign 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 together 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.