Google Docs, Sheets and Slides Get Slew of Features for Teamwork
With more team projects being managed in the cloud and on the go, Google has added new collaboration capabilities to its G Suite productivity apps. They include the ability to name different versions of cloud-based documents, suggest editing changes from mobile devices, and use and create document templates with built-in add-ons for signatures, graphs, legal matters, and more.
G Suite users with paid Business or Enterprise subscriptions will also see enhanced Google search capabilities integrated into their cloud-based Docs and Slides.
Google has rolled out an ongoing series of updates to G Suite, once called Apps for Work, over the past year or so. In July, the analyst firm Gartner Inc. included Google as a leading company in its Magic Quadrant for content collaboration platforms.
New Template Customization Capabilities
Some of the changes Google announced yesterday will be familiar to users of Microsoft Word, which has long offered version control, "clean version" previews, and batched acceptance or rejection of editing suggestions. In fact, Google and Microsoft were closely ranked (with Microsoft coming in slightly higher on "ability to execute") in Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant, along with Box, Dropbox, and Citrix.
G Suite users will also be able to suggest changes to cloud-based Google Docs from Android or Apple mobile devices, and they can use add-ons to compare document versions and review suggested edits.
While Google Docs and Sheets already supported the use of templates, yesterday's update introduced new templates with built-in add-ons from companies such as LegalZoom, DocuSign, Lucidchart, PandaDoc, EasyBib, and Supermetrics. Google also added the ability for developers to create their own templates with customized built-in add-ons for their companies' specific needs.
"Teams use templates in Docs and Sheets to save time on formatting," Google Docs product manager Birkan Icacan wrote yesterday in a G Suite blog post. "At the same time, developers are building add-ons to customize functionality. We thought, why not bring these two together?"
With the new ability to create custom templates with add-ons, Icacan said now developers can, for example, "create a Sheets template paired with an add-on to gather internal approvals or an invoice template in Docs (paired with an add-on) that pulls information from your CRM system."
'Renewed Approach to Enterprise Priorities'
As part of its ongoing efforts to add new machine learning-based capabilities to its G Suite platform, Google yesterday also said it was integrating smarter search functionality into the Docs and Slides tools for paid Business and Enterprise users.
"Using Machine Intelligence, Cloud Search surfaces relevant information to help you work more efficiently throughout your day," Icacan wrote.
With the latest update, a user can launch a new search by opening the Explore tab while working on a document in Docs or Slides. Cloud Search will then look across all of the user's G Suite apps, including Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and Sites, to return information that's relevant to the document at hand.
In its Magic Quadrant report on Google last month, Gartner noted that the company has demonstrated "a renewed approach to enterprise priorities and needs" over the past 15 months, with organizational changes and increased use of artificial intelligence technologies.
However, Gartner cautioned that Google has yet to offer hybrid cloud support or integration with third-party IT products, something that yesterday's new add-ons update appears to address to some degree.