Google Announces Simultaneous Editing, More for Google Docs

Google on Monday unveiled its latest set of upgrades to Google Docs. The new improvements clearly aim to make the free online service a more robust competitor to Microsoft's Office applications.

The word processing editor in Google Docs will now offers simultaneous collaboration. That addition comes just months after Google bought AppJet, whose EtherPad product offered very similar functionality.

The rebuilt word processing editor also offers more accurate import of third-party documents (such as Microsoft Word), tab stops, a ruler for adjusting margins, and better in-document image handling. And, in an obvious nod to Word's change-tracking tools, Google's editor will now allow notes and comments to be linked to any part of the document.

The spreadsheets editor in Google Docs sports similar professional-grade enhancements: There's now a formula bar and autofill functionality; you can drag and drop columns to reorder them. Google says that, thanks to modern Javascript engines in today's browsers, the new, optimized version of the spreadsheet tool is speedier and snappier than ever.

Finally, Google announced a new standalone, collaborative drawing editor for Google Docs, as well. The company says that the new tool will be useful for creating charts, diagrams, and other schematics.

Google plans to roll these new Docs features out over the next few days.

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