Realtime collaboration from multiple locations

Google turns up the heat on Office with collaboration tweaks
[Via Ars Technica]

Google is making a number of changes to its Google Docs offerings to make them even more attractive for those looking to make the switch from Microsoft’s Office. Google’s editors for documents, spreadsheets, and drawings are getting even more realtime collaboration attributes—including character-by-character editing by multiple users. Unfortunately, Google Docs is also losing a couple features, but Google believes these changes will help take it to the next level when it comes to challenging Microsoft.

Google Docs has always had easier-to-use collaboration features than much of what Microsoft has to offer. Docs has been particularly useful for individuals and small businesses who need to throw together a document quickly with geographically scattered users, but the newest additions allow users to see each others’ edits on a per-character basis. This means you can watch what your coworker is typing into a document in almost realtime, and up to 50 users can be connected to a document at a time

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This is why I love reading Ars. I can get a relatively great explanation of something that is inherently geeky but very useful for everyone. Creating collaborative documents easily, with per-character edits in almost realtime opens up some real possibilities.

One of the first is taking really deep and rich notes at a meeting. Many people catch different things in translating the spoken word to print, meaning that the more people involved, the closer the notes come to what was actually spoken. And while some transcribe, others can make the document richer with photos, URLs and other data.

I have seen this done at large conferences and it is really useful. and people not present in the room can still follow the presentation by reading the text.

There have been other ways to accomplish this but none with the reach that Goggle Docs has. It will be interesting to see just what people make of this.