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Weekly Update - May 22, 2021: Google I/O, Smart Canvas, Photos

You may want to pour a cup of coffee, because there is a lot of news this week. There are updates from Google I/O for Docs, Meet, Photos, Lens and more. Chrome is testing out a sort-of RSS feed reader. And YouTube is improving estimated earnings reporting and other Studio features.

This past week was Google I/O, the annual developers conference. Last year’s event was cancelled, and this year it was entirely virtual. As of this writing you can still go on an I/O adventure, collect swag, watch demos, learn about Google’s updates for developers, and play a few games. If you have a website, be sure to check out the Web/Chrome dome. Or if that is too silly for you, you can get most of the content on the Google I/O website.

Google I/O highlights

Collaboration and productivity:

Smart Canvas is a new improved design for Google Workspace applications. This means more flexible and “smart” formats, and deeper integration between products. And yes, most of these features will be available to free personal accounts.
  • Present from Google Docs, Slides or Sheets directly to an active Google Meet call. This will be rolling out over the next few weeks.
  • Google Meet will be coming into Docs, Sheets and Slides this fall. See the demo.
  • Meet will have captions in more languages, and live translations of captions. This is coming “later this year”.
  • Docs has a new pageless format that fits your screen, and isn’t limited to the dimensions of a physical sheet of paper.
  • “Smart chips” in Docs, which let you insert people, documents and meetings by typing @. Mentions of people are already available, and smart chips for documents and meetings are rolling out.
  • Insert checklists or table templates (including project trackers and topic voting). Checklists are currently rolling out.
  • A Doc template for meeting notes that imports relevant details from a Calendar event.
  • More smart suggestions in Docs, including warnings about offensive words and language.
  • Timeline view in Google Sheets for tracking tasks.
  • Create and edit Docs, Sheets and Slides in Google Chat Rooms. This is already available for Docs and Sheets.
  • Formula suggestions are coming to Google Sheets.
Smart Memories 

Google Photos will start highlighting “little patterns” in Memories, personalized to you. There will also be more controls for titles and which images will be included.

Private by design 

Google is adding more privacy features to current products and services, and adding AI-enhanced features to Android devices that use on-device processing, so it doesn’t pass through Google’s servers.
  • Quick delete in Search, so you can delete the last 15 minutes of your search history with one click.
  • A passcode protected Locked Folder in Google Photos. This can be used for sensitive images (copy of your passport, sexytime photos) which will not appear while scrolling through your photo library or be synced with your Google account.
  • Privacy dashboard in Android 12, so you can see when apps accessed your microphone, camera or location.
Improved Password Manager

The Google Password manager is now available on iOS, as well as Android and Chrome. It has several new features:
  • Import passwords from other password managers.
  • Better integration on Chrome and Android to make it easier to automatically fill in a password.
  • Get an alert if your password has been compromised in a third party breach, and an easy way to fix compromised passwords in Chrome with one tap.

Google Lens has an improved translation filter, which lets you use your mobile phone’s camera to copy, listen to or search translated text in over 100 languages.

AI understanding conversations

Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) is a “research breakthrough” that can help chatbots better understand the meandering course of conversation. For search there is a new Multitask Unified Model (MUM), which can understand information across different types of media (like web pages and images) and different languages.

The future of video calling

Project Starline is a Google research project to make a video call seem almost like actually being in the same room. It uses advanced hardware and software for 3D imaging that doesn’t require a headset. The long term goal is to make this affordable, and possibly integrame some of the technical advancements into Google’s current communication products.

Read on to learn more about notable upcoming changes to YouTube, Google Photos and more.


There are a number of changes coming to Google products and services in June. Make sure you have made any necessary updates before then.


Web Publishing

  • Chrome is experimenting with a “Follow” feature that lets you follow a blog or news site’s RSS feed. Maybe they can call it Google Reader? The test is limited to Android devices in the United States with Chrome Canary.



That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

: "Selfie" from inside the Google I/O Adventure


  1. Anyword that Google Docs will be formated better so you can write a blog post using Google Docs and then put it in Blogger?

    1. I'm not sure what you mean by better exactly? But if you copy paste from Docs to Blogger, which I often do, it does require stripping a lot of the extraneous formatting and then reformatting it.
      I don't know of any updates that will make that better.

      The current focus seems to be on using Docs as is, so not formatting it for other platforms. But I don't really know.

      I would love for there to be a way to publish directly from Docs to Blogger, but that's probably just a dream.


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