This week Google rolled out a new editor for documents and spreadsheets said to be faster, better at real-time collaboration, have higher quality import action, and offer more control over a document’s layout. This Docs update is the first in a string due out over the course of June.  

Google Docs Revamped

Google initially announced the revamping of Google Docs a couple of months ago. With gaining enterprise-y attention in mind, Big G released a new infrastructure built to mold the tools into versions that look and act a lot more like traditional word processors.

"You shouldn’t have to give up any routine features when you switch to Web-based applications," said Google's Anil Sabharwal.

Here's a re-cap of what we knew in April:

Google's New Editors

The time for new Google Docs is here. Transitions start now, beginning with new editors. "Beginning today and rolling out over the next couple of weeks, all new documents will be created using the new documents editor," said Jeff Harris, a product manager at Google. "Docs already created using the older editor will remain there."

More details -- such as how to move documents over to the new space -- are coming soon, but for now we know these new editors will offer real-time collaboration, improvements to the way elements are imported, a new table of contents, a dictionary, and the ability to search as you type.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing in Google Docs is scheduled to change as well. In order to make it easier, users can do things like a visibility option to a doc in a single step:

 

google_docs_visibility.JPG

 

Visibility settings include:

  • Private: Documents set to private will only be available to you, the creator, and anyone you manually invite.
  • People at your domain with the link: Document set to ‘People at your domain with the link’ are accessible to anyone inside the domain who knows the URL of the document, and will generally not be indexed by internal search tools.
  • Your domain: Docs that are set to your domain can be accessed by anyone in the domain, andmay be indexed by internal search tools.

Additionally, documents outside a domain can be shared by link, or can be set to be completely public.

The New Google Spreadsheets

All you Google Docs users will also slowly be transitioned over to the new Google Spreadsheets. Data will bot be affected and you won't have to learn anything new, but you'll be able to enjoy a few new perks:

The formula bar: The formula bar lets users view long formulas on a single line, and is now a place for editing formulas as well. 

Autofill: Duplicating an entry simply requires typing the first few characters of your entry, and the rest should show up right away.

Drag and drop columns: Say goodbye to right clicking. Users can drag columns, and sort them via a drop-down menu on the column header.  

New buttons: Google re-designed the buttons on the bottom of the application in order to make them clearer and easier to use. 

Advanced sorting rules. Users can now sort entire sheets or specific selections of cells according to one or more sorting rules. 

The list goes on (you can view the whole thing here). 

Who's the Fairest App of Them All? 

As you probably know, Microsoft recently announced a web-based Google Docs competitor of their own. Reviews have been mixed, but last we checked, a number of professionals were disappointed with Microsoft's new offerings. JP Gownder of Forrester, however, sings a different tune

In some ways, the Office vs. Google Docs debate doesn't merit a lot of consideration --- it's still no competition. In terms of usage and penetration, Google Docs remains a failure --- so far, anyway. Only 4% of U.S. online consumers say they regularly use Google Docs, according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics PC and Gaming survey. Let's think about that for a second: We're talking about a free software-as-a-service offering from one of the top brand names in technology. The offering has been available for over three years from Google (and two more years if you count Writely before Google purchased Upstartle). And yet only 4% of consumers are onboard.

Perhaps Google's new and upcoming additions will change a few hearts, perhaps not. Which side of the fence are you on?