Something to look forward to: If you notice something different upon logging into one of Google’s cloud-based productivity services this week, you’re among the first to receive the Workspace UI overhaul. All Workspace users should receive the update over the next few weeks.
Google has begun updating the user interface for Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Slides. The company is bringing its productivity applications into its new Material Design 3 framework – a visual language that should make Google apps more comfortable and readable. Gmail received a similar update a year ago, which improved the integration of services like Meet, Chat, and Spaces. All users should receive the visual and functionality improvements by March 25.
The changes to the productivity apps are primarily visual, making some elements appear larger and others more compact. Google hopes the simplified graphical interface will help users find frequently used functions more quickly. There are also improvements to commenting, background rulers, and gridlines.
Google added key actions inline on files to increase productivity and access speed. New dropdown menus let users quickly list and find files by type, owner, and last modified. The company also added the ability to select multiple items simultaneously for batch actions.
While the new interface retains all the functionality users expect, it does rearrange some items. Those looking for information on a document’s status, like its version history and most recent edits, can now find it by clicking the clock icon in the window’s top right corner.
In the coming weeks, Google is also introducing improvements to Smart Canvas. The framework will let users more easily assemble templates for calendar invites, invoices, contracts, and other forms. Collaborators can also vote and react to items in documents with emojis.
Additionally, Google has started rolling out new functionality for Sheets to let users more easily pull data from other sources based on information in a spreadsheet. For example, right-clicking on a person’s name in a spreadsheet displays their contact information instantly when available. Cells mentioning places can also link directly to Google Maps. The Sheets updates also make information from calendars or concerning finances more reachable. Some new features are available now, while others will arrive over the next few weeks.