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Google’s smart canvas to improve Workspace collaboration arrives for Docs

By Ken Wong - on 20 May 2021, 4:48pm

Google’s smart canvas to improve Workspace collaboration arrives for Docs

Make calls from within a document. Image courtesy of Google.

After more than a year of working remotely, having to turn to tools like video conferences and collaboration apps to bridge the physical distance between us, some are suffering from what Google called, digital fatigue.

Speaking during a briefing to the media, Erica Trautman, Director of Google Workspace said that Google was introducing Smart Canvas into Workspace.

Smart Canvas will introduce new features like smart chips, templates, and checklists as new collaboration tool for Docs, Sheets, and Slides to work together more efficiently.

Tag what you want with smart chips. Image courtesy of Google.

Now available in Docs, when you @-mention a person in a document, a smart chip shows you additional information like the person’s location, job title and contact information. Type "@" to add people, files, and meetings to a doc, and soon Sheets.

Share a checklist to get tasks done. Image courtesy of Google.

Docs will also feature checklists on web and mobile so you can assign items to other people. The items will be visible in Google Tasks as well.

Use a 49-inch monitor, you can fill it properly with your work. Image courtesy of Google.

It will also add a new pageless format for Docs, you can move the boundaries of a page to create a surface that expands to whatever device or screen you’re using, making it easier to work with wide tables, large images or detailed feedback in comments. And if you want to print or convert to PDF, you’ll be able to easily switch back to a paginated view.

Smart Canvas will soon bring table templates to Docs for a new way to gather feedback from team members. You can also track project milestones and statuses.

Collaborate on a document with colleagues. Image courtesy of Google

Ultimately Google is working to connect all of the apps in Workspace together to improve collaboration and the way they work together. For example, you would be able to chat with a colleague by clicking on his smart chip within a document.

Microsoft's Fluid Framework. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced something similar to last year with their Fluid Framework.

Rather than a mere static form, made up of text, rigid tables and links, a Fluid Framework comprises a series of interactive elements whose tables, lists, graphs etc., can be edited by any Office user invited and edited in any Office app.

These elements can also be used or linked in more than one Office component like a Word report and a Powerpoint presentation based on the report. Importantly, if an invited user updates a Fluid component, it will still be updated automatically within Word or Powerpoint, whether or not you are editing it at the time.

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