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Google rolls out new smart canvas features in Workspace apps
Wed, 26th May 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Google Workspace is forging ahead with its vision to build the future of work, and it will do so by putting collaboration at the centre of every experience.

This month Google announced Smart canvas, a new product experience within Google Workspace that enhances Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides with more intelligence, interactivity, and flexibility.

Google Docs

  • Additional assisted writing features in Docs - These will provide style suggestions for editing. They will also display warnings about offensive words or language.
  • Smart chips in Docs - Users can type @ to see a list of recommended files, people and meetings to include in their work.  This functionality will be rolled out to Sheets soon.
  • Checklists - These help users capture tasks in Docs. Integration with Google Tasks is coming soon, which will enable teams to assign tasks and manage to-do items across Google Workspace.
  • Table templates - These enable users to create topic voting tables in Docs, useful for team feedback. Project tracker tables will also be included. Also, a document template for capturing meeting notes will automatically import any relevant information from a Calendar meeting invite.
  • Emoji reactions - Docs will also include Emoji reactions over the coming months.
  • Remove page boundaries - This enables users to create a surface that expands to whatever device or screen they're using.

Google Sheets

  • New views - These will include timeline view, which enables users to organise data based on owner, category, campaign, or other attribute. 
  • More assisted analysis functionality - This includes suggestions for building and troubleshooting formulae.

Google Meet and Chat

  • Meet directly in Google Workspace - Coming this year, users will be able to Meet directly in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
  • Content presentation to Google Meet - This can be done directly from Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web.
  • A refreshed Meet experience - this includes more space to see people and content. Users can pin content and video feeds, as well as turn off their self feed.
  • Create and edit Sheets and Docs in Chat rooms - This enables teams to jump from a Chat discussion to Sheets and Docs. The capability will soon be available in Slides as well.

According to Google Workspace VP and GM Javier Soltero, collaboration has traditionally been defined by legacy tools that can't support future needs.

“At Google, we pioneered modern collaboration and see it both as our responsibility and opportunity to steer Google Workspace toward enabling new ways of working. Smart canvas is the next step in delivering on this promise.

New security features

Google Workspace has also launched new capabilities to protect users from security threats and abuse.

The Workspace Alert Center enables IT admins to see and act on real-time alerts and security insights by integrating data from VirusTotal.

Further, Google Drive now offers user blocking. Options include blocking users from sharing content in future; removing all files shared by another user; and removing another user's access to content, even if it had been shared with them in the past.

Finally, Google Workspace resource access also offers protection from attackers and unauthorised applications. Options include blocking all OAuth 2.0 API access with app access control and new context-aware access for Google mobile and desktop apps.