The All New Google Presentations

Google Docs, the cloud suite of productivity tools offered by Google for free, has always been a favorite of mine. I have used Presentations, the slide deck creation tool, to make visuals and collaborate with others. I have always found Presentations to be more than serviceable, and definitely useful.

Google has just made Presentations even more useful with a dramatic feature roll out. The changes focus on improving collaboration by including presence markers to show where collaborators are working, allowing simultaneous editing by team members, showing a use revision history to see who made changes or to revert to an earlier version, and a building in a chat feature to permit dialogue between collaborators while working on the document. There are more than 50 other new features , including better transitions and “spicier” (their word, not mine) 3D effects, new animations, new themes, drawings within presentations, and rich tables.

The new stuff is rolling out slowly but you can help it along – just click on the gear in the document list, select Document Settings, hit the editing tab, check the box to “create new presentations using the latest version of the presentation editor” and voila!, you’re in. But don’t bother if you are running an older browser: the new Presentations is optimized to work with the latest browser editions, so update one of those first before trying this at home, kids. Check this link for what works.

I love shiny new playthings from Google!

Digital Omnivores & How They Are Changing Consumption

Very interesting report from comScore, published this month, entitled Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits. If you hadn’t already figured out that mobile / tablet usage was driving the Internet, this report should fully inform of that fact. Digital omnivores is the term comScore uses to distinguish modern consumers of a vast variety of digital content across a number of different devices from traditional users who interact solely with their desktop or laptop computer. Contrary to the impression created by the title, the report discusses device usage in markets other than the U.S. Across the markets queried, web traffic from non-computer devices ranged from 5 to over 7%. Devices include mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles and media players.

There are many interesting findings, and I encourage you to peruse the report. I found particularly interesting the fact that the iOS platform has the largest share of connected devices and smartphones in use in the U.S. and accounts for the largest share of Internet traffic in the U.S. Main uses include consuming news, communicating and engaging in real-time social networking. Mobile devices are being used to purchase goods and services, play games, listen to music, check the weather, and search the Internet.

I think the big message is for device manufacturers and content providers. The better these devices get, the more responsive and slick applications become, the more consumers will move from the traditional desktop / laptop experience to the mobile experience. Content providers will need to craft their presentation to meet the needs of many different devices and the casual, fairly constant engagement of consumers with those devices. Content will need to be fresh and easily accessible. This applies to content creation tools as well – the more familiar users become with these “unusual” interfaces, the more willing they will be to push the usage boundaries on these devices.

I regularly use desktops, laptops, Android & iOS based smartphones and tablets, and find I am very comfortable across all of these platforms. And I am by no means a digital native. It will be interesting to see how devices change to meet the changing usage patterns and user needs, particularly as the younger generation adapts and innovates. Digital omnivores? There is no question about it.