Most people are not too familiar with Google Tables. It is a database that lets you keep records on tables and then lets you make associations from data on one table to another table. Here are some real world examples of what Google Tables can do for you or your school.
- Keep inventory of all your devices
- Create a ticketing system so people at your school could request IT (or any) help
- Organize a convention – You could organize all the speakers and who will be attending their workshops and also organize all the attendees and have all their schedules at the tips of your fingers
In fact Google has a number of templates that you can use right away. They have those mentioned above but also booking rooms/shared spaces, project management, creating a directory, new employee onboarding and more.
Don’t I know you?
If this sounds a little familiar it is because it is. Microsoft has Access and then there is Airtable which we use for our inventory and to manage an annual convention that we hold at our school. There are plenty of other examples out there was well but those are two very popular ones.
Airtable (for example) It allows us to add records but then create different views or tables of that data with different data. For example for out inventory we can view the data by device or by user or by what part of the school the device is in or by status (working, damaged, lost, etc.). This gives us a great amount of data quickly and at our fingertips.
This is Google’s attempt to create that type of database. This is nice but what is even nicer is the fact that you can automation to it. Google calls these automation “Bots.” For example, if someone requests a room, the bot can automatically email them that the request has been received and when someone changes confirms the booking, the bot can then send another email saying that the booking is complete. Nice and transparent.
This is nice but there are two tiers to Google’s Tables. A free version and a paid version:
If you want those bots, you better shell out some cash. I will say that $10/month/user is not a terrible price. Airtable offers “Apps” which offer similar automation. That will run you $20/month/user, but of course Airtable is much more polished than Google’s offering at the moment.
Why would anyone use this?
This is a Google product and it probably plays very nice with other Google services, most notably Gmail. I love the idea that this can just email people. Imagine leveraging Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Drive to really make this very powerful! That idea alone should make someone pay attention. Google does have an API but I would think that it would be way easier to integrate their products with a member of the family as opposed to Airtable which is a third party.
What’s the catch?
Well, can Google make it as well as Airtable or other established competitors? That is a big question. Google has a good track record of creating lots of products but maintaining them and making them competitive at a snail’s pace. Google Meet is a great example. When the pandemic hit in early 2020 Google Meet was barely usable. There was no way for teachers to manage the meeting. Anyone could mute anyone else, leave and return whenever they wanted and even when someone ended a meeting the link would be active for 24 hours so students could sneak back in and have their own private meeting. It was a mess.
I worry that Google may do that with Tables. I worry that they have a small team working on this and they just won’t have the resources to make it a viable, competitive product. Even with its Google integrations right now we have no plans of leaving Airtable for it.
Another concern is that Google has loyalty to very few products. If it thinks its not going well, they’ll just kill it out of the blue. Check out killedbygoogle.com.
If people don’t adopt it, Tables could end up on this website!
To be fair, this was created by Google’s in house incubator called Area 120. So for it to make it from there to beta probably means that it had to be rigorously tested and approved by a number of people. I am sure that a majority of those projects in Area 120 never the see light of day and fewer still make it all the way to beta.
This shows that Google cares about it, but they also cared about Project Loon, Project Ara and many, many more. I like what Google is doing here and will try to find a use for it for the future so I can write a more detailed blog post about it.
Keep your eyes our for this one – it may develop into something special . . . or not. 🙂