Google recently announced several updates regarding its successful spreadsheet program, Google Sheets. Google Sheets has already established itself as a popular alternative to Microsoft Excel, allowing for easy online editing and sharing. Its new updates promise to give the spreadsheet program an even more competitive edge.
Smart Fill is the first feature on deck, and it’s something every Google user is already familiar with. When writing an email in Gmail, Google’s Smart Compose suggests an ending for a sentence you begin to type. For example, if you start writing, “It was very nice-” Smart Compose will offer the end of the sentence “to meet you,” in gray letters, and you can swipe to accept the suggestion.
Smart Fill is the Google Sheets version of Smart Compose, but rather than complete sentences, it uses an AI algorithm to detect patterns on columns and then generates a formula to autocomplete it. For example, if you have a column of both first and last names and want to separate them into two columns, once you start typing only first names, Smart Fill will detect the pattern, create a formula, and autocomplete the rest of the column for you.
The nice touch about this feature is the creation of a formula before the information is autocompleted. This gives users an added level of flexibility in manipulating the data as necessary. Plus, people who aren’t familiar with formulas can learn more about them and how to create their own.
Smart Cleanup is the second new feature that Google will be rolling out later this year. This feature will help Google Sheets users clear up data by finding duplicate rows and zeroing in on formatting issues. The tool will suggest changes, which can be accepted or ignored.
Google also announced the general availability of Connected Sheets, a BigQuery data warehouse that allows users to analyze petabytes of data. Now, this option will be available in the familiar setting of Google sheets. What Google has essentially done is give access to big data analytics to anyone who has the wherewithal to use Google sheets. Of course, the information is only worth something if you know how to analyze the data and extrapolate information from it. Connected Sheets is available for G Suite Enterprise, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and G Suite Enterprise Essentials customers.
Google excels at using AI to enhance the user experience, and its new Sheets features are welcome improvements. No doubt that once these features hit the market, we will wonder how we ever lived without them in the first place.