Google announces smart canvas to drive a new era of collaboration in Workspace

Online collaboration and communication have become exceedingly important across all domains, especially during the ongoing pandemic. To enable its customers to do more, Google has been updating its collaboration tools with new features and enhancements to content sharing, chats, and video calls, among other things.

At its I/O event today, Google has announced a bunch of enhancements to its Workspace suite to make collaboration easier under the umbrella term of "smart canvas".

Google&039s Javier Soltero talking about Smart Canvas and other Workspace updates on stage at Google

Google has described smart canvas as its foray into the "next era of collaboration" in Workspace to enable high productivity among cross-functional teams at organizations.

New smart chips have been introduced in Docs which recommend you which files to attach, people to mention, and meetings to utilize when you use the @-mention. This essentially offers you a holistic view across multiple services without changing the tabs. The same capability will be coming to Sheets later this year. Further improvements to Docs include a pageless format where the boundaries of a page are removed and dynamically resized so that you can view various types of document objects without having to worry about the page size. More emoji reactions are coming to Docs in the next few months too.

Inclusive language recommendations are making their way to Docs, as are "smarter meeting notes" templates which will extract necessary information from a meeting invite and smart chips when you create them. Checklists will now be integrated with Docs and will be synced with Google Tasks. This capability is coming to mobile and the web this week.

Table templates with topic voting are coming to Docs soon. This will allow teams to gather feedback during projects on the fly.

Google also announced a bunch of new features coming to Meet, stating that:

You can now present your content to a Google Meet call on the web directly from the Doc, Sheet, or Slide where you’re already working with your team. Jumping between collaborating in a document and a live conversation without skipping a beat helps the project — and the team — stay focused. And in the fall, we’re bringing Meet directly to Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web, so people can actually see and hear each other while they’re collaborating.

[...] We currently offer live captions in five languages, with more on the way. And we’re introducing live translations of captions later this year, starting with English-language live captions translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, or German, with many more languages to follow.

When it comes to Sheets, a timeline view is coming soon. This makes it easier to organize your data by various attributes enabling better cross-team collaboration while tracking milestones. Additionally, more formulas will be suggested to users, making it easier to perform data analysis directly in Sheets.

Finally, another example of the smart canvas initiative - which includes all of the above - is editing content directly from Google Chat. This is already available in Sheets and Docs on the web, but support for Slides will be added in a few weeks.

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