Google's next way of working is 'Smart Canvas'

Google's all-in-one workspace appears similar to Notion.

google workspace smart canvas primary
Google

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Google’s next step in Google Workspace is... a Google workspace: Smart Canvas, an all-in-one digital document that’s designed for collaboration.

“For over a decade, we’ve been pushing documents away from just being pieces of paper, and toward collaborative, linked content inspired by the web,” said Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of Google Workspace, during a presentation at Google’s Google IO developer conference on Tuesday.

google workspace smart canvas Google

Soltero didn’t call out Smart Canvas as a separate app, competing with existing Workspace apps like Docs or Sheets. Instead, he positioned Smart Canvas as more of a conceptual experience, guiding the evolution of working within the Google Workspace apps over time. Some users began comparing Smart Canvas to Notion, a subscription service for the Mac OS platform that uses the same sort of inclusive design as Google’s own Smart Canvas.

Smart Canvas looks like a document, but includes links to people and other files that can be linked via the Canvas. (Google calls these “smart chips,” and they can be referenced through an “@” symbol combined with the relevant person or document.) Soltero showed a reference that looked somewhat similar to Google Keep’s checklists, as well as integrated tables that could be created within the document—again with references outside the document.

Soltero’s demonstration included features that Google has talked about before, such as inclusive language that would change “chairman” to “chairperson.” (Microsoft, too, has included this in its own Microsoft Editor tools.)

google worksapce meet in docs Google

Google will soon begin integrating Workspace and Meet, so that you’ll be able to launch Meet from, say, Google Docs.

Google also offered an update on the integration timeline it began putting forward last year: Beginning today, you’ll be able to share a Slide, Doc, or Sheet document within a Google Meet call. Beginning this fall, Meet will be directly integrated into Docs, Sheets, and Slides as well. A related Companion Mode will also give each member of that Meet call their own dedicated video window, if they want it, so they’ll always feel like part of the conversation, Soltero said.

What’s next for Smart Canvas? It looks like the concept will evolve over time. The idea is for Smart Canvas to be less of the old way of doing things—as a document describing a moment in time—than an always-actionable, up-to-date document, Soltero said.

Google included a visual demonstration of what Smart Canvas will look like, below.

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