Google just launched a number of improvements to its Apps suite to help users better collaborate, research and analyze. In a blog post, Google is positioning the improvements as educational tools to help students, though it’s clear that anyone using Google's productivity suite can benefit.
First off, there’s voice typing in Google Docs. Users can simply choose the option from the Tools menu. In our limited testing at Neowin, the feature appears to work reliably, also recognizing punctuation inserts such as “period” “question mark” and “comma.” Voice dictation only works in Chrome desktop for the time being.
Also new to Docs is the Research tool, though it’s only available for Android. Google is describing this feature as “schoolwork, minus the work.” Essentially, users can search Google without leaving the composition window in the Docs app, a useful trick since multi-tasking on a touch-enabled device isn’t natural for most users. To use Research, users activate the menu at the upper right and choose "Research." A Google search pane appears in the lower half of the screen; images and text can then be selected and added by tapping “Insert.”
Google has added a significant analysis tool called Explore in Sheets. The feature intelligently looks at spreadsheet data, then automatically generates charts to help users visually understand their data. As Google succinctly states, “you can now spend less time trying to decipher your data, and more time making a point.”
Google has also made it simpler to track changes from multiple users in Docs for desktop. If there are new changes since a user last saw the document, they will see a prominent blue “See new changes” button.
Lastly, Google's survey-creation tool, Forms, has as a simpler design. Themes are now easier to apply, and it's more intuitive to choose the format you want, such as multiple choice and checkboxes.
Google appears motivated to continually improve its free productivity suite, especially in light of Microsoft's renewed efforts to provide steady competition. Redmond is actively improving its free Office Online, recently integrating a number of services such as Dropbox, Box and others.
Source & image: Google