Saturday, July 19, 2014

The New Google Docs App

I just downloaded the new Google Docs and Sheets app onto my iPad.  There is an app for Slides coming out soon. Clearly, Google is making a move to better match up with Apples office suite of Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes and Microsoft's Office 365.  

  • Google's offerings of Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides is entirely free.  While there is limit on file storage, but the free storage provided is such a generous amount that it would serve anyone's needs who is not using Drive for videos and photos.   Drive works very well with Google documents and it can store any kind of files but seems cumbersome and awkward with Microsoft files.  MS files are easy to store but very difficult to open them from Google Drive in the MS application.  Drive opens them in Google’s equivalent.
  • Apple offers their Pages, Numbers, and Keynote suite of products.  These apps work very well.  99% of the time I am using Pages.  When I am done in pages, I copy the final work into blogger, Google Docs, or word depending on what my end goal for the writing is.  

    Their cloud storage seems to work well on Apple devices but it is not accessible, as far as I know, on non-apple devices.  Lastly, the Apple Cloud is only for apple file formats. So, the Apple Cloud cannot be used for general file storage.  The capacity is limited but I have no idea what the limit is or the charges when the free limit is reached.  Apple used to charge $10 each for the three office suite apps.  That is what I paid a few years ago.  Since September of 2013, they have been providing it for free on new iOS devices. 
  • Microsoft 365 small business, which is what I would get, offers the very comprehensive and ubiquitous MS Office Suite of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  The charge for the software, on up to five different devices, and base cloud storage of 1 TB per user is $12.50 a month or $150 per year.  This gives unlimited video conferencing, skype, and more.  One gets Notebook, Access, email, file sharing, and more.  It actually sounds like a very good and very attractive deal.

This Google Docs app is a little confusing in name because Google first called their cloud based equivalent to MS Office Google Docs.  Last year or the year before, Google renamed the file storage and cloud part of this offering Google Drive.  Now it is offering the named products for their office suite independent of Drive.  They are doing this after Microsoft has leapfrogged them in terms of offerings and features.  Microsoft charges and it seems to me that they are providing more value than what Google is providing for free.  
I am writing this little bit on the Google Docs app.  It has the kind of the same feel as Apples Pages app but it is definitely missing some features.  Specifically, I was looking for word count so I can keep track of how much I have written.  I tried to find and turn on a ruler bar so I could indent paragraphs.  As I could not find the ruler bar, I am using left justified paragraphs and putting a line space between at the end of each paragraph.  I can certainly cut, copy, and paste using this app but only on the touch screen.  Control x, c, and v do not work with my Zagg keyboard.  In reading reviews online, I have come to find that it is not currently possible to copy and paste photos in this Google Docs app.  I am sure that Google will close the gap and the most used functionality of MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
Google Docs is a very simple typing app without even some the basic tabs and formatting features found on mechanical typewriters.  I did not try to use Sheets but the reviews I read noted that there are almost no features one expects to see in a spreadsheet program.  Both seem be suited to capturing minimum thoughts or data for further editing in the online version of Google Drive.  
While Apple Pages has a lot more functionality, it can be very slow to load.  Sure, I can cut and paste quotes or photos from other apps or the internet, but I switch back to Pages, I have to wait until it is ready for me to resume... like it is coming out of hibernation.  This may be the price I pay on an iPad2 for a modern app that is dragging a lot of functionality along with it.  

Both Google Sheets and Google Docs are very bare-bones and basic versions of what's available online. Rather than useful tools, both apps appear to be rushed-to-market responses to Microsoft Word and Excel for iOS. While Google Docs can at least be used to do drafts of documents and share them with other individuals while mobile, Google Sheets has nothing to commend it as a true spreadsheet other than the fact that it presents cells on a page.

Anyone who is looking at getting real work done on an iOS device at this point will be better served by Apple's Pages and Numbers (US$9.99 each, free to owners of new iOS devices) or Microsoft Word for iPad and Microsoft Excel for iPad (free, but requires an annual subscription to Office 365 at $75+ per year).  ~

Right now, on my iPad, Google Docs and Sheets rank third behind Apples Pages, Sheets, and Keynote which I have and Microsoft's Windows 365 which I am seriously thinking about getting.  
     Note:  For the final edits of this piece, I used a laptop and the online Google Docs.  The word count is:  960… LOL

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