Google kicked off Google IO 2021 today by announcing some improvements to Google Workspace, starting by revealing Smart Canvas and announcing some new features that are on the way to Google Meet. Google demonstrated Smart Canvas through the lens of a team split between in-person and remote employees who are working on a marketing campaign together, with Smart Canvas acting as something of a collaborative planning document as they kick off work and check things off their to-do list.
With Google’s demonstration, we see that Smart Canvas allows workers to insert meeting notes, project roadmaps, and brainstorming tables into Google Docs. Google takes us through the process of creating a brainstorming table, which allows Workspace users to tag team members through @ mentions, create a list of goals, outline any pre-work team members might need to do before the project gets underway, and then present product ideas that can then be voted on by other team members. There’s also a section that can list the next steps the team needs to take once brainstorming is complete.
Google announced Smart Canvas alongside some improvements to Google Meet. The company confirmed today that Google Workspace users can present docs, sheets, and slides with others in a Google Meet call. That functionality is going live today, but Google says that this fall, it’s going to integrate Google Meet directly into Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides so users can start a call from within those individual apps.
Another improvement headed to Google Meet is a feature called companion mode, which gives each teammate their own video tile, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. Google Meet is also getting machine learning tech that will automatically center and zoom in on the camera’s subject, along with noise cancellation and live captions for video calls.
Google definitely made a lot of announcements in quick succession for Google Workspace, but it saved the biggest announcement for last, revealing that Google Workspace’s “fully integrated experience” will soon be available for everyone, not just Workspace’s paying customers. More details about that are coming in the next few weeks, so we’ll stay tuned for more on that front.