Google’s productivity software has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. The three core applications – Google Docs for word processing, Google Sheets for spreadsheet work and Google Slides for presentations – have been designed to be simple and easy to use with enough functionality for most users, most of the time. The web applications have steadily been improved, as have the Android applications, incorporating more and more functionality, including the ability for the applictions to handle Microsoft Office format files as transparently as possible for the user. Google is not aiming these productivity applications to replace Microsoft Office (at first) but instead to sit alongside the Microsoft suite and to start to be used in preference. However, with this in mind, the weakest of the trio is easily Google Sheets.
Part of the reason why Google Sheets is a weaker web application compared with Microsoft Excel is because Excel contains many, many formula and calculation functionality that only benefits a realtively small proportion of the user base. As such, Google have designed Sheets (and Docs, Slides) to handle the smaller, simpler spreadsheets and the users who need Excel’s more advanced functionality will have to licence the Microsoft Office application. However, this all written, it does not mean that Google have suspended further development for Sheets, either on the web or for devices and this brings me to today’s article: Google have updated the Google Sheets web application today with a number of new features and improvements.
The first improvement is that Google Sheets now includes new customization options for charts including the ability to add data labels and shapes to annotate data points. These shapes include stars, triangles and pentagons. Another improvement is a real time display for the formula results when typing something into the spreadsheet, plus the ability to filter rows and columns by “greater than” and “text contains,” which could be very useful for those customers who use filters. Pivot tables are getting a new option, too, in the shape of the ability to add calculated fields plus a command GTPIVOTDATA designed to make things much easier to retrieve data from an embedded pivot table. The final new feature is the ability to set up a customized warning message to collaborators trying to edit part of a document that they shouldn’t! All of these new changes should be rolling out live to the web app as well as the android app starting today.