Detailed on the Google Drive Blog earlier this week, the development team in charge of Google Docs and Sheets have launched a new type of app store for users creating documents or spreadsheets. Called add-ons, these custom applications can import data from Web tools, provide additional formatting options, enable greater communication between people sharing the document or add interesting graphics in diagram form. While Microsoft focuses on providing a marketplace for Word and Excel users to download custom templates, Google is focusing on adding functionality to the docs interface through the help of third parties.
For instance, one of the add-ons will take a list of addresses within a Google spreadsheet and format it correctly to be printed on Avery address labels. Another add-on, HelloSign, enables a field within a document that allows someone to legally sign it using an electronic signature. High school or college students that are working long hours into the night to complete an essay due the following day can use the EasyBib Add-On to quickly generate a bibliography in MLA, APA and Chicago Manual of Style citation formats without having to pause while writing the essay.
Other useful tools included within the Web store perform functions such as MailChimp email integration, mind mapping for brainstorming sessions, language translation, inserting a table of contents for long docs, adding music notation, import data from social networks for analysis, merge multiple documents into one, create an advanced messaging interface or even start a conference call from within a document.
In order to access all the new add-ons, look for the new add-ons drop-down in the Google Drive main menu and click on Get add-ons to launch the Web app store. Users can also manage any added add-ons if the tools prove to be useless for that particular document or spreadsheet.