Google’s ‘smart canvas’ vision for Workspace brings a pageless interface to Docs


At Google’s I/O event last year, the company made plans to significantly revamp the look of its Workspace cloud apps (named G Suite until a name change in 2020). That includes a new look for Gmail starting to roll out this month, search chips (you can just call them filters) for Google Drive, and a slew of changes that are about to come for Google Docs and Google Sheets.

The theme of this approach is called ‘smart canvas’. It takes some hints from productivity apps like Notion to give you more options for combining the functions of multiple tools on one screen and to promote ways to collaborate remotely with colleagues powered by Google’s AI. Integrating the various office apps is an approach that usefully helps Google increase business engagement with its services, which is a good enough idea that Microsoft is working in a similar direction with Fluid framework updates in its own Office suite. .

Corrections in Google Sheets formula

Corrections in Google Sheets formula
Image: Google

Last fall, Google added AI-generated formula suggestions we called “autocomplete for math,” and now Google says the next step is more like autocorrect. The feature is coming to Sheets soon, with promises to help users solve their formulas and debug them.

Google Docs 'Pageless' UI

Google Docs ‘Pageless’ UI
Image: Google

Features described during the May I/O presentation will be gradually rolled out to Workspace accounts over the coming weeks, including a pageless format for Google Docs. Rather than opting for a default view that replicates a standard-sized printed page, Google Docs content knows no boundaries, which the company says will make it grow or shrink to fit the kind of screen you’re using. According to Google’s support document for the feature, “[w]When viewing a pageless document, you can select the text width narrow, medium, or wide. You will see the same text width in all pageless documents you view. Your choice of text width will not affect how collaborators see your documents.”

You can switch back to a page-breaking view if you need to print or convert something to a PDF, but Google’s guess is that in connected, remote workplaces, that won’t be as necessary in the future.

Instead, people will interact directly with documents that contain interactive elements to bring out all the information that’s relevant at the moment, such as embedded Google Maps links that you can click to quickly preview without switching to another page or app. to open. Another new feature allows Google Docs to automatically generate document summaries using its own intelligence to find the key points that appear in the left rail. Once it’s live on eligible Workspace accounts, click View at the top and then View Document Summary to view the summary.

One feature not yet available is an easily accessible email draft template so that you can click one button to run all the content in a draft in Gmail. It will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

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