Google Docs, Sheets and Slides Get Improved Collaboration

Google continues to develop their suite of Office-like apps, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides, and the latest update to the web, Android and iOS versions of the app are all aimed at improving collaboration on files.  The updates are rolling out now to the various platforms and for your Android or iOS device, it may be several days before you see the new builds of the apps hit your phone or tablet.

Before I get to the changes that Google announced on the Android apps, let’s first talk about the changes to the web version of Google Docs.  Now you can instantly add a comment when you

Google Docs for Web Comments
Google Docs for Web Comments

highlight a piece of text.  When you highlight that text, on the right you will now see a comment bubble pop up.  Click on it and add your comments about that portion of the text.  Want to add someone to collaborate on the document, just start typing in their name and it will popular their email address in the comments and will send them an email notifying them.  They can then add comments to the document too, bringing teams together in a more efficient way as everyone is working from the same, literal, page.

Now let’s turn to Android.

Like the web version of Google Docs, on the mobile version of that app along with Google Sheets and Google Slides, you can instantly add someone to the collaboration team on a document simply by typing in their name or email address in the comment box just like you do on the web.

Google Docs for Android
Google Docs for Android

If you are scratching your head because you know comments are not in the Android versions of the app, you can quit being puzzled.  The updates to these apps brings comments just like you have in the web versions to the mobile apps.

Finally, for all the apps in iOS and Android, you can now swipe through comments by swiping across the screen of your device.  This will move you to the next comment on the document.  For Android users, this has actually been in Google Docs and Google Sheets for a while, but now you have it in Slides too.

In addition to these changes, the Android apps are also getting some new formatting, filtering and language functionality.

  • Import and export additional file formats in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides – As long as you’re online, you can now import and export the following file formats in and from the Docs, Sheets, and Slides Android apps:
    • Import – .txt, .rtf, and .html (in Docs)
    • Export – .docx, .rtf, .pdf, .txt., and .html (from Docs), .xlsx, .pdf, .html, .csv, and .tsv (from Sheets), and .pptx, .pdf, and .txt (from Slides)
  • Open CSV and TSV files in Google Sheets – In the latest version of the Android app for Sheets, you can open, view, and edit spreadsheets that are formatted as .csv or .tsv files.
  • Read from right to left in Google Sheets – If you use a right-to-left language (e.g. Hebrew) in Sheets, you’ll now see an option in the Android app to format your spreadsheet in that same direction. Once enabled, your columns will progress from right to left (starting with “A”), and your row numbers will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.
  • Filter data in Google Sheets – You can now apply new filters to spreadsheets in the Sheets Android app, as well as view and change existing ones. (NOTE: This feature became available in the app’s previous release.)

As I documented in my four-part series, I moved from Microsoft Office to the Google apps last year and really haven’t looked back.  These new features are certainly welcome and will allow me and other users to basically do anything I need on my Android devices while I’m on the go.  If you haven’t tried them out, now is as good a time as any to give them a go.

Google Docs for Android – Free

Google Sheets for Android – Free

Google Slides for Android – Free