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6 ways Google wants to fix how you work

With hybrid workplaces becoming commonplace, Google is adding more ways to efficiently collaborate and communicate with your team.

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You don't even have to wait for Android 12 to take advantage of Google's Smart Canvas features.

Screenshot by CNET

Google rolled out a slate of productivity features at the Google I/O developers conference last week alongside the new Android 12 operating system, camera and WearOS updates. Google will house its new productivity features, which are aimed at connecting hybrid workplaces, under the name Smart Canvas.

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Brett Pearce/CNET

The new updates, features and tools are meant to enhance frequently-used apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides, according to a blog post from Google. It should also make it easier to stay connected, focused and work efficiently with Google Workspace -- especially now that so many teams are spread across the globe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's a look at how Google has spruced up its Workspace tools with Smart Canvas, and how to use the new features.

Smart chips to tag people, files, events and meetings

Users can now take advantage of smart chips with the Smart Canvas updates. Smart chips streamline a user's workflow in Google Docs by expanding on the already available "@ mention" feature. Now if you type "@," you'll be able to not only tag other users, but add specialized links for files, events and meetings as well. The feature will arrive for Google Sheets in the coming months.

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When you type @ mention in Docs, you'll be able to tag more than coworkers.

Screenshot by CNET

Smart chips will also enable you to create checklists on web and mobile, as well as assign the tasks to others. The assigned tasks will appear in the assignee's To Do List in Google Tasks.

In addition, smart chips include table templates in Docs to better track feedback, projects and more. There's also a template for capturing meeting notes and importing information from calendar invites.

Pageless format Docs

Unless you type solely in Note apps, you're likely familiar with page breaks in programs like Google Docs. With Smart Canvas, you can get rid of page breaks, so the last words of a sentence or charts aren't broken up. If you want to print or convert to a PDF, you can turn page breaks back on, according to Google. Adding the ability to nix page breaks can make for a more fluid writing process.

Timeline view in Sheets

Sheets is getting a new Timeline View for easier, faster task tracking. In Timeline View, you'll be able to organize your information by owner, category and more. 

Integrating Docs, Sheets and Slides into Google Meet

Smart Canvas has plans to better integrate communication and collaboration tools. Now, you can present content to others on a Google Meet call from Docs, Sheets or Slides with minimal interruption. In the fall, Google said it'll bring Meet directly to Docs, Sheets and Slides for simultaneous collaboration and communication. 

Google Meet also offers live captions in five languages, but live translations will arrive later this year. Translations will start with English translated to Spanish, Portuguese, French and German, with more languages to be added later.

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Smart Canvas better integrates collaboration and communication tools. 

Screenshot by CNET

Google Chat

Google is also integrating collaboration tools into Google Chat for easy creating and editing during meetings. It's available for Docs and Sheets with Slide support arriving soon. Google is also adding emoji reactions to Docs.

Assisted writing features

Smart Canvas also includes assisted writing features in Docs on the web which will work a bit like Grammarly. In addition to stylistic suggestions that can help with editing, the assisted writing feature can warn about offensive language or word choices. A similar assisted analysis feature will come to Slides to help users better gather insights about data. 

For more, check out Google I/O 2021: Everything we didn't get and Android 12: How to download Google's new beta phone OS, who can use it now.

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