Google today announced a couple of updates to Google Sheets that will make building spreadsheets and analyzing data in them a little bit easier.
The most interesting feature here, surely, is the upcoming launch of Smart Fill. You can think of it as Smart Compose, the feature that automatically tries to finish your sentences in Gmail, but for spreadsheets. The idea here is that Smart Fill, which will launch later this year, can autocomplete your data for you.
“Say you have a column of full names, but you want to split it into two columns (first and last name, for example),” Google explains in today’s announcement. “As you start typing first names into a column, Sheets will automatically detect the pattern, generate the corresponding formula, and then autocomplete the rest of the column for you.”
That’s a nifty feature, though it’s worth noting that Microsoft has made some major strides in bringing a lot of ML-based features to Excel, too, which can now automatically create new columns based on its understanding of what your spreadsheet is about, for example. It just extended the number of these AI-driven data types to well over 100 at its Build developer conference. The use case here is a bit different, but both companies are using similar techniques to make building spreadsheets easier.
One feature that’s nice about how Google built this is that it doesn’t so much auto-magically fill a column but that it builds a formula to fill it, giving you quite a bit of flexibility to then manipulate that data as needed.
The second new feature that will be coming in the near future is Smart Cleanup, which, as the name implies, can help you clean up your data by finding duplicate rows and formatting issues. The tool will suggest changes, which users can then accept or ignore.
The company also today announced the general availability of Connected Sheets, a feature that connects a BigQuery data warehouse with Sheets so that you can analyze petabytes of data in sheets without having to know SQL or really any programming language. This feature aims to democratize access to big data analytics by giving anybody in a company who knows how to use a spreadsheet the ability to analyze that data and create charts based on it.
Connected Sheets is now available to G Suite Enterprise, G Suite Enterprise for Education and G Suite Enterprise Essentials users.