Google's productivity suite, often referred to as Google Docs, contains several individual applications for particular purposes. These include Google Docs (the word processor), Google Sheets (the spreadsheet manager), Google Slides (presentations) and Google Keep (on the face of it, note taking, but many more utilities). Several of these applications are directly compatible with their equivalent applications in the Microsoft Office suite. Of the Google applications, Slides is often overlooked as simply an application for showing presentations and typically using the Chromecast application to put these onto a projector. However, Google Slides - like Microsoft's PowerPoint - is a very useful tool for business professionals and educators who want to be able to show slides on a big screen when talking to an audience. And as with all of Google's products and services, it is in a constant state of improvement.
Google have today taken the wraps off a number of new features for the Google Slides application and the main change is an improvement in getting the audience to participate in the presentation through a service called Q&A. Q&A provides the audience with a web URL that allows them to submit questions during the presentation, rather than waiting until the end (and perhaps forgetting the question). The audience can ask the question with their name or anoymously. Google have incorporated another important feature: it allows the audience to view already submitted questions and vote on them. If there are many questions, this means the presenter can concentrate on the most popular questions to be asked. This in turn, will help people engage with the audience, or in Google's language, to talk with your audience rather than at them.
Another improvement to Slides is the ability to share the presentation via Hangouts using either an iOS or Android device - now presentations may be shared using Hangouts, Airplay, or the Google Cast function. The idea behind this function is so that the presenter is able to concentrate on his or her presentation rather than the necessary technology to get everything to work. For the web version of Google Slides, there's a new feature that converts the mouse pointer into a laser pointer on the screen - a small but visually useful addition. Google's Blog reports that these improvements are rolling out for Google Slide users from today. Meanwhile, you can check out Google's YouTube clip below.