Google Docs is having some serious issues with its new “inclusive language” warnings

Google is nothing if not helpful: the search giant has built its reputation on making the internet more accessible and easier to navigate. But not all of its innovations are either clever or welcome. 

Take the latest change to Google Docs, which aims to highlight examples of non-inclusive language through pop-up warnings. 

You might think this is a good idea, helping to avoid “chairman” or “fireman” and other gendered language – and you'd be right. But Google has taken things a step further than it really needed to, leading to some pretty hilarious results.

Inclusive?

A viral tweet was the first warning sign that perhaps, just perhaps, this feature was a little overeager to correct common word usages. After all, is “landlord” really an example of of “words that may not be inclusive to all readers”? 

As Vice has ably demonstrated, Google's latest update to Docs – while undoubtedly well-intentioned – is annoying and broken, jumping in to suggest corrections to some things while blatantly ignoring others. 

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A good idea, poorly executed 

The idea behind the feature is well-meaning and will likely help in certain cases. The execution, on the other hand, is poor. 

Vice found that Docs suggested more inclusive language in a range of scenarios, such as for “annoyed” or “Motherboard”, but failed to suggest anything when a speech from neo-Nazi Klan leader David Duke was pasted in, containing the N-word. 

In fact, Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto – a legendary piece of literature – got more edits than Duke's speech, including suggesting “police officers” instead of “policemen”. 

All in all, it's the latest example of an AI-powered feature that seems like a good idea but in practice has more holes than a Swiss cheese. 

Helping people write in a more inclusive way is a lofty goal, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired and, ultimately, makes the process of writing harder. 

Via Vice

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You can now join a video call straight from Google Docs

Joining a Meet video call is now easier than ever thanks to a new feature that will allow users to join directly from Google Docs, Sheets or Slides.

The Google Workspace update allows users to join a video conferencing call with just a click, meaning there's no need to scrabble around for a calendar invite or email.

Going forward, Google Docs users will see a new icon next to the “Share” button, allowing them to join a Meet video call directly from their document.

Google Docs video calls

The new taskbar will house a full list of all the video calls and meetings a users has scheduled, including dates and times, with the join button showing once a meeting is live.

As mentioned, it will be present not just in Google Docs, but also Sheets and Slides, giving users multiple ways to join.

Google Docs join a Meet call

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

Google says this new approach will also allow users to have the content they are working on open and within sight whilst on a call, rather than needing to juggle multiple apps or browser windows.

The tool was first announced last month, but is now rolling out to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business users now. It will be on by default, with users starting to see the changes immediately.

“To help teams do their best work in the hybrid work world, as many of us begin a return to office, we continue to make enhancements to Google Meet to help ensure that video meetings are inclusive and collaborative no matter the location or device preference,” the entry in the Google Workspace update blog states.

 “We hope this feature makes it easier for everyone in the meeting to collaborate in real-time while having a conversation—all from the same tab.”

Google Meet is also set to soon receive a new picture-in-picture mode, which will allow Chrome users to bring up a floating meeting window that sits on top of other browser tabs.

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New Google Docs feature lets you provide feedback in an entirely different way

Collaborating with others in Google Docs is about to look a whole lot different especially when it comes to giving and receiving feedback.

While Google’s office software already allows users to highlight sentences and paragraphs to leave comments, the search giant will soon be rolling out reactions to provide a less formal alternative to comments.

According to a new post in the Google Workspace blog, Google is adding emoji reactions to Docs. In practice, this new feature will look and feel similar to how users can react to messages in a group chat, for better or worse.

Emoji reactions

Whether you like it or not, this feature will be on by default and can not be disabled by users according to Google.

To access reactions in Docs, users simply need to select a sentence or even a paragraph they want to react to and they’ll be able to add an emoji reaction from the pop-up menu on the right side of the screen just like adding comments to a document.

If you’re a fan of emojis and use them frequently, you’ll be happy to know that any preferences set in Google Docs will also be shared with Google Chat. These include emoji skin tone and gender preferences and Google has also added gender-neutral options for gender-modifiable emojis.

Emoji reactions are rolling out now to Rapid Release domains and will roll out to Scheduled Release domains beginning on April 20. All Google Workspace users as well as users with personal Google Accounts will be able to use this feature once it goes live.

While emoji reactions could potentially make using Google’s online collaboration tools more fun, the ability to disable the feature altogether would be a nice touch for more serious organizations and users.

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Google Docs will now practically do your writing for you

Google is rolling out an upgrade for Docs that could help users improve the quality of their writing.

As explained in its latest blog post, the company is adding a number of new “assistive writing features” to the word processing software, including synonym and sentence structure suggestions.

The service will also flag up any “inappropriate” language, as well as instances in which the writer would be better served by using the active rather than passive voice.

Google Docs update

In the form of the Smart Compose feature, which offers autocomplete suggestions as the user types, Google Docs has long been equipped with a measure of intelligence.

However, the company has recently ramped up efforts to introduce artificial intelligence-powered functionality to its Workspace suite, with the goal of boosting user productivity and the quality of work.

In addition to this latest update, Google recently announced that Docs is now capable of summarizing the most salient information in any document, eliminating the need to wade through lengthy reports.

Separately, an update for Google Drive allows the cloud storage service to intuit which documents a user may want to work on at which time of day, cutting the time spent hunting for specific files.

The arrival of further recommendation features for Docs is another step in the campaign to make the company’s product suite more intelligent.

“Suggestions will appear as you type and help guide you when there are opportunities to avoid repeated or unnecessary words, helping diversify your writing and ensuring you’re using the most effective word for the situation,” Google explained.

“We hope this will help elevate your writing style and make more dynamic, clear, inclusive, and concise documents.”

When the tools are active, suggestions will be underlined in purple. Selecting the underline will bring up a small pop up that prompts the user to accept or decline the change.

These suggestions will be switched on by default, but can be deactivated under the Tools menu at the top of the page.

The new Google Docs features are currently in the process of rolling out and should take effect for all premium business customers by the end of the month. The updates will not be available to Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, nor Enterprise Essentials customers.

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Google Docs can now help write your Gmail messages for you

Google has added a new feature to its word processing software, Docs, that it hopes will make collaborating on important business emails easier than ever.

The office software will now offer a new email template that allows users to draft messages in Google Docs but also see how they would be portrayed as a Gmail email before sending.

Typing @email in the web version of Google Docs will now launch the new template, complete with subject lines, sender and cc fields, and body text box.

Google Docs and Gmail

Once launched, you can tag other Google Workspace users through their email addresses or user names, giving them the chance to review your work and collaborate on the message.

When finished, just click on the email button next to your draft message to see the text transformed into a Gmail compose window, where all the fields will be automatically populated based on your draft text.

Google Docs and Gmail email draft

(Image credit: Google)

The company said in its blog post that the feature has already begun rolling out to Google Docs web users, with the process due to be completed over the next few weeks.

The integration will be enabled by default, and is available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The feature looks to be part of Google's ongoing campaign to make online collaboration a smoother experience as more and more employees embrace hybrid working.

The company revealed its smart canvas initiative in 2021, helping tie together its range of workplace apps such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Since then, it has also introduced automatically generated summaries in Google Docs, which provide a brief overview of the main points in a document. 

Google has also launched “smart chips“, where users can use @-mentions to tag for peoples, files and meetings, along with inserting additional items such as images, tables and templates.

This was expanded recently after the company launched additional smart chips or clickable objects that pull relevant information directly into the collaboration canvas. For instance, the new maps smart chip allows you to easily preview a Google Maps link directly in Docs.

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Google Docs can now help write your Gmail messages for you

Google has added a new feature to its word processing software, Docs, that it hopes will make collaborating on important business emails easier than ever.

The office software will now offer a new email template that allows users to draft messages in Google Docs but also see how they would be portrayed as a Gmail email before sending.

Typing @email in the web version of Google Docs will now launch the new template, complete with subject lines, sender and cc fields, and body text box.

Google Docs and Gmail

Once launched, you can tag other Google Workspace users through their email addresses or user names, giving them the chance to review your work and collaborate on the message.

When finished, just click on the email button next to your draft message to see the text transformed into a Gmail compose window, where all the fields will be automatically populated based on your draft text.

Google Docs and Gmail email draft

(Image credit: Google)

The company said in its blog post that the feature has already begun rolling out to Google Docs web users, with the process due to be completed over the next few weeks.

The integration will be enabled by default, and is available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The feature looks to be part of Google's ongoing campaign to make online collaboration a smoother experience as more and more employees embrace hybrid working.

The company revealed its smart canvas initiative in 2021, helping tie together its range of workplace apps such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Since then, it has also introduced automatically generated summaries in Google Docs, which provide a brief overview of the main points in a document. 

Google has also launched “smart chips“, where users can use @-mentions to tag for peoples, files and meetings, along with inserting additional items such as images, tables and templates.

This was expanded recently after the company launched additional smart chips or clickable objects that pull relevant information directly into the collaboration canvas. For instance, the new maps smart chip allows you to easily preview a Google Maps link directly in Docs.

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Google Docs wants to help you spot when you’re being phished

Spotting potential security threats such as phishing scams on Google Workspace should soon be a lot easier thanks to a new update to the software suite.

Google has revealed it is releasing an upgrade to its online collaboration platform that will provide more information on who is tagging you in comments or questions.

This means that whenever you are mentioned in a comment on a Google Docs document, Sheets spreadsheet or Slides slideshow, it should be easier to spot that the notification is legitimate.

Workspace email alerts

Previously, only the name of the commenter was included in email alerts sent to a user after they had been mentioned in a comment. Google says that in order to provide more security and insight, it will now also include the commenter's email address, showing they are a legitimate user.

Google Workspace comment email

(Image credit: Google)

“We hope that by providing this additional information, this will help you feel more confident that you’re receiving a legitimate notification rather than a spam or phishing attempt by a bad actor,” the company noted in a blog post announcing the news.

The feature is rolling out now, and is available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers, and users with personal Google accounts.

The move is the latest addition from Google Workspace to improve security for its users. The company added end-to-end encryption to the platform back in June 2021 in what was a slightly late move, but one that added a significant protection boost for its entire software collection.

This launch also saw Google enabling businesses to set up their own in-house key service, enabling them to take charge of their encryption keys.

The company is also looking to draw in more new users with the launch of Workspace Migrate, which offers an easier way for admins to assess and plan migration projects to its platform.

This includes looking to move a large amount of enterprise data, such as that from Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft OneDrive, file shares, and Box migrations.

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Google Docs will now practically write your documents for you

Working together online with your colleagues has always been an essential part of Google Docs but with the launch of smart canvas last year, collaborating with others using the company's office software has become even more intuitive.

In order to help users sort through all of their documents in their inbox, the search giant is introducing automatically generated summaries in Docs which provide a brief overview of the main points in a document. While Google's AI will suggest a summary for you, you can also edit a summary manually and this new feature is now generally available.

With more people working from home than ever before, less documents are being printed. Instead, employees are collaborating on documents online using their laptops and smartphones and as such, page breaks and margins no longer hold the weight they once did.

For this reason, Google is launching pageless format in Doc that allows users to remove the boundaries of a page to create documents that expand to the device or screen they're using. As part of the move to hybrid work, there is less need to print which is why pageless format makes it easier for teams to collaborate on documents with wide tables, large images or detailed feedback in comments. However, if you do want to print a document, you can easily switch back to a paginated view.

Interactive building blocks

With the introduction of smart canvas last year, Google brought interactive building blocks like smart chips, templates and checklists to its office software.

Smart canvas also allows users to pull rich information directly into their documents by using @-mentions to insert smart chips for peoples, files and meetings. Google also recently expanded the “@” menu to make it easier to insert additional things like images, tables and templates.

Now though, the company is bringing this capability to email by allowing users to collaborate on email drafts in Docs with its new email draft template. When an email is ready to send, you just need to click a button to export the content into a draft email in Gmail with all of the relevant fields already populated. At the same time, Google also recently launched a meeting notes template that automatically imports any relevant information from a Google Calendar meeting invite including smart chips for attendees and attached files.

Finally, the company has launched additional smart chips or clickable objects that pull relevant information directly into the collaboration canvas. For instance, the new maps smart chip allows you to easily preview a Google Maps link directly in Docs.

While Google Docs was once just a free office software suite designed to compete with Microsoft Office, the introduction of smart canvas, smart chips and other AI-powered tools has made it the preferred online collaboration tool of users around the world.

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It’ll soon be easier to track down all your lost Google Workspace docs

Tracking down that elusive Google Docs or Sheets file could soon get a lot simpler thanks to a new search upgrade.

The company has revealed it is adding a new setting to its search history tool specifically designed to find files created in its Google Workspace office software suite.

The new addition will hopefully be able to track down and display those hard-to-find files directly in your search history, removing a common headache for workers everywhere.

Google My Activity

The change is coming to the Google  – My Activity page, which contains all the details of your recent searches across both the web and Google's own apps, such as YouTube.

Going forward, search data from Workspace apps will be contained in a new setting, which will allow users to see suggestions from their own search history.

Past searches can be rerun if necessary, and will cover the likes of Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, and Currents, along with standalone services such as Google Cloud and Google Sites.

Google says it doesn't utilize any of this data for targeted advertising, and deletes all search history data after 18 months (although this can be reset to delete at 3, 18 or 36 months) and users can amend, expand or restrict the amount of data collected on them at any time.

The new setting will begin rolling out on March 29, and will be set to on by default. Users can disable it by heading to My Activity page > Other Google activity > Google Workspace search history.

The news comes shortly after Google unveiled a new look for Gmail that aims to combine several of the most popular Workspace apps in one window.

The approach looks to provide users with a one-stop shop for all their communication needs – whether via email, video conferencing, or just good old-fashioned instant messaging – without them having to open up extra tabs or windows.

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Via 9to5Google

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Google Docs will now really let you stamp your mark on your work

Making sure your work gets the respect it deserves will soon be a lot easier in Google Docs thanks to a new privacy tool coming to the service.

The word processor tool, part of Google Workspace, has announced users can now add background text identifiers such as watermarks to their documents.

This means that Google Docs users can now mark their work in order to protect copyright, show that the information within is confidential, or simply notify readers that it is a draft or work in progress.

Google Docs watermark

In a blog post outlining the new feature, Google notes that text watermarks will repeat on every page on your document, making it useful for indicating file status.

Users can also include an image watermark, such as a company logo or sign, or include other images above or behind text. To find the new feature, which has no admin control, users simply need to go to Insert > Watermark > Text

The feature will work across other platforms too, as when working with Microsoft Word documents, text watermarks will be preserved when importing or exporting your files.

Google Docs watermark

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

The tool will be available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as G Suite Basic and Business customers, with the rollout starting in January 2022 and due to take a few weeks.

The news should be a boost to legal and high-end businesses dealing in confidential documents, and comes shortly after a further new functionality also looked to add greater depth to Docs that sees a new process for formal document approvals for high-priority files (such as contracts, legal documents and the like), building upon existing comment and suggested edit features.

Google Docs has also recently boosted its citations feature, making the software a more viable choice for students and academics. When adding a citation to an essay or research paper, users will soon be able to search for sources via an in-built database, and then automatically populate the necessary fields (title, publisher, date of publication etc.).

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