Google Sheets, the company’s online spreadsheet, is getting quite a bit smarter today with the launch of the Smart Autofill add-on. Smart Autofill can look at the existing values in a spreadsheet and then, with the help of the Google Prediction API, automatically divine the data for missing values in a column.
Essentially, the algorithm learns as much as it can about the information that is already available in a spreadsheet and then it looks for patterns to build a model based on this information.
Say you have a spreadsheet with a number of data points about vehicles (this is Google’s default example). Maybe you have pricing for some, but not for all. Google will look at the data in the spreadsheet and then try to predict the right values for the missing prices. Or maybe you are slightly OCD and keep a spreadsheet for the restaurants you visit with data about their cuisine, ambiance, cost and other data. Now when you add a new place, Google will try to predict how much you will like this one.
Google admits that not all datasets will work well for this, but this is going to be a fun feature to play with if nothing else. It’s definitely a cool example of what you can do with the Prediction API.
If you want to give this a try, head over to the Chrome Webstore and install the Smart Autofill add-on. After that, take a look at this tutorial, which walks you through an example for how the add-on works on a relatively simple spreadsheet.