You’re probably already familiar with Google’s Smart Canvas features in its Workspace apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Smart Canvas is a set of tools for anyone who’s interested in websites like Notion, but who prefers to work directly inside the tech giant’s ecosystem instead (it is where everyone else is, after all!)
Anyone who’s used them to date can tell you that document summaries, @mentions, checklists, and so on definitely make collaboration with colleagues, friends, and even family members more interactive and seamless. Google is now starting to roll out new Canvas capabilities to turn your documents into a “springboard for action.” There are a load of really cool ones, so let’s take a look!
The custom building blocks feature seen above will let you reuse a grouping of Smart Canvas capabilities as a template for quick injection in new or existing documents. The new invite template (linked to reduce GIFs, sorry!) will allow you to invite document viewers to an event in Google Calendar, and they can confirm their attendance instantaneously. It appears as a small calendar icon with a plus sign on the left side of the content it refers to.
As for workflows involving contracts, invoices, and more, the “Variables” chip will let you dynamically insert placeholders for a client’s name, address, and so on, which will then be intelligently injected based on the viewer or editor’s personal info who opens that particular document.
The Emoji voting chips feature will let your users tap a thumbs-up or down emoji (or really anything you choose to place) in a column, table, or elsewhere, providing you with quick, aggregated feedback on any given topic. The third-party smart chip feature lets you inject data into your doc from websites like Trello, Figma, Asana, Zendesk, and more. I’m actually really interested in seeing how organizations will leverage this one and how powerful it can make Google’s tools for productivity over time.
Smart chip data extraction is pretty neat too. It allows you to place a chip in a Google Sheet and right-click it to automatically pull in data from the linked document. This looks like a super fast way to fill out the spreadsheet with content and take the workload off of your shoulders!
Next up, we have location-based and finance smart chips. The former lets you insert a location into a file without manually typing it, and the latter makes quickly referencing Google Finance stocks, mutual funds, and currencies a snap in Sheets. Oh, and there are also new “Date” shortcuts like @today, @yesterday, and @tomorrow as well as the obvious and more specific @date chip for automating time injections.
Whew! As you can see, it’s not Notion yet, and hopefully, the implementation will be more thoughtful and structured as Smart Canvas matures, but it’s already come a long way since launch. All of these new features are sure to speed up your workflow across the board and make working with others much more focused on well, the interactions and less on the tools used to do so. If you’re not already using Smart Canvas chips, now is definitely the time to try them out and see how they benefit you and your team. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in any one of these over the others and if you think any capabilities still need to be added!