Area 120 Tables is Google’s take on the database renaissance

JC Torres - Sep 22, 2020, 8:45pm CDT
Area 120 Tables is Google’s take on the database renaissance

There has recently been an undercurrent of new tools in the productivity and office space that are practically souped-up and prettified versions of the classic database management systems many love or love to hate or both. From Airtable to to Notion, these new apps and services do more than give databases a fresh coat of paint, offering functionality that may have been unimaginable decades ago. Google, unsurprisingly, doesn’t want to be left behind this revolution and it is working through its Area 120 incubator arm to deliver G Suite-integrated tool simply called Tables.

If Docs, Sheets, and Slides are for (word) documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slides, it’s no surprise that Google is calling its fancy new database tool “Tables”. But while traditional databases are often visualized as, well, tables of records or spreadsheets, Tables is taking a page out of other modern tools’ books to present databases in ways that won’t require a computer science degree to understand or appreciate.

Just like Airtaable, which has probably become the most popular product in this niche space, Tables offers different ways to view a database, from traditional grids to kanban boards to maps. Unlike Airtable and its kin, though, Google is pushing the tool more towards a very specific use case, one that involves keeping track of work, teams, and projects. That said, it will probably be useful for personal task tracking as well.

It wouldn’t be a Google product, however, if there wasn’t some form of automation or AI involved. Tables gives these the fancy name “Bots” but it works pretty much like any other automation system. You can set it to perform some actions based on a schedule or have it automatically run based on a trigger, like when someone checks off a task.

The particular appeal of Tables will be its integration with other Google products like Sheets, Groups, and the like. Although still in incubation, Tables is already offering a $10 per month per user subscription. There is a limited free tier, of course, but both are limited to the US at the moment.

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