Google Updates Docs and Sheets With New Add-Ons

The add-ons are designed to make common tasks easier for users of Google Docs and Sheets.

office efficiency

Google has unveiled a new feature that brings in simple add-ons to streamline some common document and spreadsheet tasks for users, such as printing address labels or sending customized emails.

The new add-on capabilities were announced by Saurabh Gupta, a Google Apps product manager, in a March 11 post on the Google Drive Blog. Some 50 add-ons are available today, with more to be added in the future, according to Google.

"You use Google Docs and Sheets to get all sorts of stuff done—whether you're staying up late to finish that final paper or just getting started on a new project at the office," wrote Gupta. "But to help take some of that work off your shoulders, today we're launching add-ons—new tools created by developer partners that give you even more features in your documents and spreadsheets."

The new add-ons can be found by selecting "Get add-ons" in the "Add-ons" menu of any open document or spreadsheet, wrote Gupta. Sheets users must update to the latest version of Sheets to use the new feature, he wrote. "Once you install an add-on, it will become available across all of your documents or spreadsheets and you can start using it right away," he added.

Some of the new add-ons include the ability to print address labels using Avery Label Merge, which allows users to import addresses or names from Sheets into Docs for printing, according to Gupta. "Just pick the type of Avery labels you'll be printing, and your document will be formatted to match the layout of your label pack," he wrote.

Writing a bibliography for a research paper can also now be done more easily using the EasyBib Bibliography Creator, which helps users cite books, journals, and websites in MLA, APA and Chicago style by entering in titles, journal article names, and Websites right inside a document, according to Gupta.

Users who want to send customized email can now make that often-frustrating task easier by using the Merge by Mailchimp add-on, he wrote. Users can utilize merge tags to pull information from a spreadsheet into a document; then, once the data is merged, they can hit send and deliver their personalized emails.

Also available is an add-on that allows users to gather approvals or feedback for their documents, wrote Gupta. "Letter Feed Workflows routes your document to the right people and adds a simple 'Approve' button right inside your document or spreadsheet," he wrote. "You'll be notified as soon as it's approved, and can publish the final version with a single click."

The Google Docs and Sheets add-ons are powered by Google Apps Script, a server-side JavaScript platform that requires no set-up, Dan Lazin of the Google Apps team wrote in a March 11 post on the Google Developers Blog.

The add-ons are being released as part of a developer-preview phase immediately, and the tools and APIs are available to all developers for use, he wrote. "Once you have a great working prototype in Docs or Sheets, please apply to publish. If you have a cool idea for Docs and Sheets users, we'd love to publish your code in the add-on store and get it in front of millions of users."

Google recently unveiled a program to encourage its existing Google Apps paying customers to promote the service to friends through a $15 per-referral cash bonus if users help Google sign up new paying customers. The Google Apps Referral Program allows existing users to receive a maximum of $1,500 as a reward for up to 100 such referrals. The program is open to Google Apps users in the United States and Canada for now, and could eventually be expanded in the future. Google has some 5 million Google Apps users around the world, according to the company. The cloud-based Google Apps includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive storage, Docs, Sheets and Slides services.

To sign up for the referral program, users must visit a sign-in page and enter their names and email addresses, plus accept a terms of service agreement. Enrollees in the program must also provide a valid taxpayer ID number and a bank account number to receive direct deposits for their referral fees. The new users who are signed up through the referrals must continue their Google Apps subscriptions for at least 120 days, according to the program rules.

Google is always working to update its Google Apps services.

Earlier this month, Google announced that it will drop support for the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server in March 2015. The coming change will affect Google Apps users who are using BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry OS 7 or older that are connecting to Google Apps through BlackBerry Enterprise Server version 5.0.3. By using the connector, enterprises could set up their Google Apps suite to integrate with BES, which allows employees to use built-in BlackBerry applications to access their Google Apps email, calendar and contacts.

In November 2013, Google announced that it would move all its Apps sign-in pages to have the same look for consistency and security, which meant that users will lose their personalization options. Under the changes, they are also losing the ability to customize their Google Apps sign-in pages with their logos and other branding information.