If your company uses Googles online services to conduct business, you probably already know that the Google Apps for Works collection has been rebranded as G Suite. With software including Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Hangouts, G Suite is a solid alternative to Microsoft's Office 365. Like Microsoft's service, G Suite is secure and scalable, and keeps all of your data backed up to the cloud, so it's accessible from anywhere.
This week, G Suite is getting a slew of handy additions that can increase your productivity. Here's a quick rundown.
Editor's Note: The Google Drive app for desktop is going to be shut down March 12, 2018. In October, users will see a notification that it is "going away," and will steer users to two replacement options. The Drive service isn't being shut down; just the app. The new options include Backup and Sync, which combines Drive and Google Photos Uploader apps. On the enterprise side, Google has Drive File System, which saves space on your local drive while providing access to all of your Drive files on demand.
G Suite will make collaborating with your team easier with the addition of Action Items. Google's apps can now use natural language recognition to spot actionable items, then automatically suggest team members who can pick up the assignment. For example, if you type, "Brad to follow up on weekend meeting," a pop-up box will let you assign the item to Brad with one click.
At any time, you can also click the new Action Items button at the top of the G Suite interface to manually schedule an assignment for a team member.
Your team members will also spend less time looking for files that need their attention. Once an Action Item has been assigned to a co-worker or colleague, G Suite will alert that person in several different ways. For starters, the system will send an alert as an email notification. Plus, the individual will see a badge next to assigned items after signing in to Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drive.
The new G Suite will also make form creation super simple. When you type out the title of a new form, the app can use Google's special database to predict the kind of question that you're asking, then suggest potential responses as tick boxes. For instance, if you type the title, "What days are you available next week," the form will be automatically populated with the days of the week. From there, you can add or remove items with a few taps.
OK, voice commands might not sound like particularly practical tools for editing documents. But Google's voice typing still presents an interesting way to streamline a variety of tasks using fewer keystrokes. The feature was introduced last year, but now new commands have been added, including the ability to change text color, insert links and make comments in the margins of a document — all using just your voice.
This is a bit of a niche feature, but if you use Slack, a business-oriented messaging app, to communicate with your work team, then this feature is for you. Slack now includes a "+" button in its interface that lets you bring files directly from Drive into a chat window, so you can collaborate more easily. You can even launch a fresh Docs, Sheets or Slides file right from Slack.