There’s a new wave of software that is creating an unbundled rival to the trio of Google’s “G Suite” software - Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Airtable is building the new spreadsheet.
Notion is building the new document / wiki.
Prezi is building the next generation presentation.
RealtimeBoard is building a collaborative whiteboard.

Some common properties of these apps:

  • Web and Mobile Native - These apps are the web and mobile native version of documents and spreadsheets - they do not assume a world in which word, excel or any other non-web document existed prior. There is no model of files in any of these products. Google Docs retains that model, and is simply the Microsoft office suite brought online (and hasn’t changed much since then).

  • Interactive Widgets in Documents - Documents in these new apps have rich interactive widgets. They are not bound by any model of what a document should look like. If you want to add a web embed in a spreadsheet cell, go for it. Need a Kanban board inside your document - not a problem. Widgets also open the door to great integrations with other web apps.

  • Linking Documents Together - Establishing relationships between items in your document is a native function - you can link spreadsheets together as you would database tables, and group documents together in a hierarchy. You cannot establish relational links between documents in the same way in Google docs - links are functions of text, and documents are grouped in folders.

  • The Right Type of Realtime - These apps are all real time - any edits you make immediately show up for your team mates, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. While I appreciate the realtime nature of a Google doc, it also creates a strange “hovering” social norm that was not well considered. These apps build in the right time of real time norms into their respective types of documents.

I’ve always love to try new products especially when it can help how I work, so I’m excited to see this new wave of products evolve.