Google has beefed up its free spreadsheet maker with speed improvements, new features and — finally — the ability to use the app without an active Internet connection. The update means Google Sheets is finally a viable alternative to Microsoft’s Excel for serious business users. Sheets is still accessible as part of the free Google Drive app suite, alongside the Docs word processor and Slides presentation maker.
The most notable change is the long-awaited introduction of offline support. Users can finally take fully advantage of the browser-based app when not connected to the Internet. That’s a big plus for business users who depend on the software and need access at the drop of a hat, whether they're on a cross-country flight or simply stuck with an unreliable Internet connection. Offline support could save users from running to the nearest coffee shop in search of Wi-Fi. And as soon as the Internet connection is restored, edits will be synced to Google Drive so they can be accessed from any Web-connected device.
Google also made the app speedier and more powerful. Gone are the old version’s spreadsheet size and complexity limits. Now your spreadsheets can include as many cells as you like. Meanwhile, scrolling, navigating and performing calculations are all faster and smoother than before.
Finally, the Sheets app now includes “filter views,” which let you name, save and share different views of your data. The features allow you to hide information that you want to temporarily take out of view to give you a specific snapshot without permanently altering your spreadsheet. Then you can share that snapshot with other Sheets users for easier collaboration.