On Monday, Google announced
a breakthrough product innovation for user of Google Docs (a cloud-based text editor by Google):
Instead of going to Tools > Word Count each time you want to view this information, now, you can simply select Tools > Word count > Display word count while typing to continuously display it in the lower left corner of your doc
Wow, what a game changer.
When Google Docs launched in 2006, 13 years ago, it really was a game changer. It was free, ran in the browser and later added realtime collaboration. Sure, it lacked some of the features that users knew from Microsoft Word, but it was a perfect alternative for most of them. Unfortunately, Google stopped there and the feature set has been almost unchanged since then. Which really is a shame, because there is so much room for improvements. No wonder there are so many startups entering the market in the last few years, trying to claim the productivity throne.
Googles makes a ton of money by selling companies a product suite called G Suite, that includes Gmail, Calendar, and many other tools including Google Docs (= Word), Google Presentation (=Powerpoint) and Google Sheets (= Excel). This line-up of products could be immensely powerful if combined in meaningful ways.
Why can’t I drag and drop contacts that I have stored in Google Contacts into a Google Sheets document to create a contact list or share tasks? Or embed a Google Sheets table in Google Docs, that syncs automatically - in both directions.
In general, I would love Google to think of Google Drive more as a massive data base that every application can pull data from. For example to reference a calculation from one file in another one. Which sounds like a no-brainer to me. And it would make the whole G Suite so much more attractive.
This isn’t rocket science. Notion does this perfectly well already. Almost everything can be tied together to create synergy and efficiency.
Dropbox, a direct competitor in the enterprise cloud and productivity market, is investing heavily in Paper, a new way to think about text editors. It’s an interesting mix of Google Docs, Confluence and a bunch of other tools and allows you to embed tools like Figma or an inVision prototype but also media like YouTube videos or Soundcloud files, assign task and deadlines, and so much more.
Paper is what Google Docs could have become if Google would actually invest in innovation instead of putting a real time word count at the bottom of the screen.
Even Microsoft is more innovative right now than Google, as you can see in this cool demo video: