After being canceled last year, this year’s Google I/O 2021 is in full swing and filled with remarkable declarations. One of the prominent announcements made for the Workspace platform is Smart Canvas. It is a single-window integrated with Google productivity and collaboration tools giving Google an Edge over Microsoft Office, the oldest office productivity tool provider.
In this post, we will learn more about Smart Canvas that makes Google Workspace apps – Docs, Sheets, Slides, connect effortlessly.
What is Smart Canvas?
Before getting into diving deep a bit of history about Microsoft Office and Google Workplace.
Microsoft Office and Google Workplace – A Quick Recap
It has been over 30 years since Microsoft launched Office, the indispensable tool for the workplace (the indisputable winner). But around 2006, Google, its biggest rival launched an online document editor, things started changing. Office users started shifting to Google workplace as they were now able to access their documents, sheets from anywhere across the globe. During the same time, other Microsoft Office alternatives also emerged, and the cat and mouse fight started.
Since, each tool that came as an alternative worked on the lines of Microsoft Office, not much difference was noticed. However, they kept trying and added new features. Looking at this Google the tech giant recently launched Smart Canvas.
What is Smart Canvas?
It is a new way to collaborate with teams and build a future for remote work. Using it, millions of Doc, Sheets, and Slides users will now be able to work more flawlessly. The @ mentions that people already use will now be more advanced as Smart Chips will be added in Docs for recommended files and meetings. They will now see additional information like – person’s location, job title, and contact information will also be accessible.
When can we expect Smart Chips added to Sheets?
In the coming months, Smart Chips will be added to Sheets, and once it’s there, collaborators will be able to expand @ mention functionality. This means when users type @ smart chips will allow them to preview linked documents, browse linked meetings without changing tabs.
Besides this, Smart Canvas has a lot more to offer.
What will Smart Canvas offer?
1. Functionality to tag people in docs – The @ mentions with Smart Chips will allow seeing a list of recommended people, file, and meetings. Similarly, making references to other documents for easy click-through will also be added.
2. Assigning tasks from within docs (checklist feature) – this will help assign checklist action to others.
Note: The action items will show up in Google Task, making it easy for everyone to manage a project To-Do list.
3. Attaching docs/sheets/slides & other document types – Based on the highlighted text where the user wants to add a link, insert link feature will show suggestions for Drive files and heading and bookmarks
4. Sharing the docs etc in Meet – Starting today users will be able to directly present their content over a Google Meet call. This will help the teams stay focused as no longer they will have to jump between collaboration in documents and a live conversation.
Note: In the fall, Google plans to extend this functionality by launching the Google Meet picture-in-picture feature. Once that is done, users will be able to collaborate with Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web and see one another. This feature will be displayed on top of Google Workspace apps.
7. Pageless format – Using this new feature, users will be able to remove the boundaries of a page. This means irrespective of the device or screen a surface to expand will be created. This will help in working with wide tables, large images, or detailed feedback in comments. Also, users will be allowed to import information from Calendar meeting invites.
8. Two new views – Timeline view and flexible view. Where the former will make tracking tasks easier and faster the latter will allow organizing data by the owner, category, campaign, or whichever attribute fits best.
9. Live captions and translation will be offered in five languages with more soon to be added.
Are all these tools unique or Google has again taken inspiration?
Sadly, not all the features are unique. It seems Google has copied certain features from collaboration tools like Tello, Asana, etc. But the job is done creatively.
Who will win the battle Google or Microsoft?
All the above power-packed features added to Google Suite will surely make a difference. Now no longer people can say Google Docs is a replica of Microsoft Office. The Smart Canvas will make it stand apart from others for ages. Till now no tool offers so many features in this well-integrated manner with ease of use. Also, the templates feature will allow creating Workspace table documents – a blend of text and spreadsheet tools. This will be like a blessing in disguise for project managers as they will be able to keep an eye on each phase of a project.
Certainly, all this looks promising, but will people use this combination? Will they find it easy? How will Google keep the use of features as simple as possible?
Seeing Google trying hard to innovate productivity solutions is good. But there are not many contenders in the Office segment. So ultimately, it seems like a tug of war between Google and Microsoft. Who do you think will win?
Which one will you prefer using and why?
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