Will Google add-ons help Docs and Sheets finally live up to their potential?

As someone who is well invested in the Google ecosystem -- I use an Android smartphone along with all the Google apps that it offers, use Gmail and Google Drive frequently, etc. -- I have a real admiration for the usefulness of most of its applications. However, as an editor and writer, I must say that the word processor, Google Docs, has always left me fairly cold.

Yes, I like how accessible it is, that I can now use it off-line, that it gives me almost immediate access to my documents across a multitude of devices... In fact, I've had people ask me why I don't just completely switch from Microsoft Word (which I use for work) or LibreOffice Writer (which I use on my personal system).

It's because, until now, Docs was missing a lot of the features that are taken for granted in a fully-featured word processor. For example, it couldn't do headers and/or footers, which I need in order to, say, submit a fiction story to a publication. Or here's another: While Google Docs can track versions of a document, it can't do individual redlining, allowing me to approve or disapprove each change in a manuscript. These are not things I can do without.

There have been tweaks and improvements to the applications over the months and years -- that's the Google way. But none of the features I really need were added. Disappointing, to say the least.

However, that has changed -- or, at least, now at least there is the potential for change. Google announced on Tuesday that it was launching add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets, so that third-party developers could come up with the kinds of features that Google wasn't going to offer.

I've taken a quick look at some of these add-ons (you find them by clicking the new "Add-ons" tab above any Google Doc or Sheet), and while I haven't yet had the chance to try any, I'm very optimistic. Some of the apps that are available are one that adds the ability to create a table of contents; one called Track Changes (which will probably be the first I try out); Hello Sign and PandaDoc, which add signatures to a document; and Easy Head and Footer, which -- well, it's obvious what that does.

I plan to test a few over the coming weeks, and find out whether these add-ons actually work with Google Docs' admittedly different format. If they do -- well, I may be able to actually, someday, leave my local word processing clients behind.

Google Docs and Sheets will now have add-ons to supplement the current feature set.

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