Google is turning spreadsheets, documents and presentations into to-do lists

Action Items help remind people what they're supposed to be doing

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A building at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on August 17, 2015.

Credit: Martyn Williams

Google is trying to do away with the tiring process of figuring out who's supposed to do what after a meeting wraps up.

A new Action Items feature in G Suite for its Docs, Sheets and Slides apps lets users add a comment asking one of their coworkers to take care of something. Users can then see at a glance what documents, spreadsheets and presentations have action items attached that they need to take care of.

Action Items is one of a handful of G Suite updates the company unveiled on Wednesday, alongside improvements to its Forms app. Slack is also integrating with Google Drive, making it easier for users of the popular chat app to collaborate on files stored in Google's service.

The enhancements are aimed at making G Suite a more compelling choice for companies interested in helping their users be more productive, at a time when the company faces tough competition from Microsoft Office 365.

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G Suite's Action Items feature lets users remind one another about what they need to get done

Action Items is a feature that could be a boon for teams that want a better way of managing the list of things they need to get done. It isn't going to replace a more elaborate set of tools like Asana or Trello for project planning, but it's good for quick to-dos that come out of meeting notes, or tasks that need to be taken care of in a particular file.

The new Forms makes creating web questionnaires easier by suggesting multiple choice options for popular questions. For example, a question about t-shirt sizes will be automatically populated with response choices for small, medium, large, XL and XXL. Users can add all the suggested options they want, or pick and choose the few they need.

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Google Forms will suggest items to include in a survey form.

Companies that pay for G Suite will also be able to use a new File Upload question in Forms to let users submit files for storage in a Google Drive folder. That would be useful for things like turning in schoolwork, or submitting images.

The updates are a quick follow-up to Google's announcements at its Horizon conference last year, when it rebranded its productivity tools as G Suite and announced a set of new intelligent capabilities for them.

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