January 24, 2011, 12:38 PM — Google has been quietly adding a raft of new features to its Google Docs online office suite over the last few months, and there are rumors even more significant features are due very soon.
Here we take a look at some of the more interesting upgrades.
Google Docs now features the Calibri, Consolas, and Cambria fonts found on Windows Vista and Windows 7, along with the Droid font set created for use on Android mobile phones. There's also a new cursive-style font called Corsiva. None of these fonts need to be installed on the user's system to appear in Google Docs; they're downloaded to the user's web browser as needed using Google's Font API (something that can be easily utilized on any website). Even more fonts are to come soon.
Drag and Drop
Users of Chrome, Firefox and Safari can now drag and drop files onto the file upload area of Google Docs. File upload, introduced early in 2010, lets you use your Docs space as a store for just about any file, with Microsoft Office documents being automatically converted to Google Docs format.
Additionally, you can drag and drop images into the browser window when editing documents for instant insertion at the cursor position, again provided that Chrome, Firefox, or Safari are in use. No Internet Explorer support? It's almost as if Google's trying to tell us something.
I remember when autocorrect and autoformat came to Microsoft Word back in the 1990s. They were obvious but insanely useful features. Well, they're now part of Google Docs too. Type 3/4 and it'll be instantly converted to ¾ . Type (c) and it'll be converted to ©. You can create your own autocorrects too--click Tools --> Preferences, and enter it in the list. No more typing received without realizing!
Google Docs' charting feature has been massively overhauled and now features prettier graphics, an improved chart editor, and new types of charts that help visualize data across time periods, such as motion charts. Organizational charts are also now on offer.
Charts can also be published to the Web, so they can be viewed independently of the data. Any changes made to the data will instantly be reflected in the chart. Just select the chart you've created, click the menu at the top left of the frame, and select Publish Chart from the submenu. You'll then be given HTML code to insert into your Web page.
Maximize Screen Space
A common criticism of Google Docs, especially when it's being accessed on netbooks, is that it's wasteful with screen space. Above the document editing area there's a lot of empty space showing little more than the filename, for example.