On Monday Google held it’s first event dedicated to cloud computing, Atmosphere. The event was meant for CIOs and IT professionals, though the announcements were certainly not limited to them. Google took the time to announce new features to Google Docs which greatly improve the service.
The biggest improvement comes with the addition of a Drawing app. Drawing has been available in documents, but is now available as a stand alone app that allows you to create charts, diagrams of other images for presentations or just stand alone graphics. You don’t have to be alone in creating those drawings, though, as Google has added support for up to 50 collaborators across all of Google Docs. Not only that, but like Google Wave, all updates people make to any document are shown to you in real time, allowing for much easier collaboration on documents.
Documents is also improved with improved image placement within text, tab positions and a margin ruler. Meanwhile, spreadsheets gain a formula bar, auto-complete in cells and drag-and-drop columns. The improvements come with improved speed, presumably thanks to HTML5.
The improvements aren’t available to everyone just yet, though they will be rolling out to “all individual users over the next few days.” Users will have select the option to choose the new versions over the current versions (though Drawing is available to everyone right now). This is presumably because the new versions only work on “newer browsers” and do not support offline mode via Gears. Offline mode will be coming soon with HTML5, however, which is something to look forward to.