Google Docs: Editing on the go!

Google has made almost every attempt possible to become the company that you use every day to check your emails, spend time on your phone, read ebooks and even edit your documents. Google Docs, the online document editor, has been available in mobile form for some time now as a web app, and many users had their hopes dashed when the Google Docs app turned out to be little more that a ‘cover’ that redirects you to the mobile web app.

I must admit that it was not until recently that I really starting using Google Docs, having always preferred Microsoft Office for its functionality and design; however, when your documents need to be viewed by multiple people or you want to continue editing them from separate places, Google Docs can be your best friend with the new mobile app. While this free application is nothing revolutionary it shows that Google is trying to allow the user to have the best experience when using their applications.

Getting Started

Upon opening you are presented with a home page showing you the navigation page with your six icons, just like in the web version, where you can view all your items, browse your collections, or search through the mass of documents that you may have floating around in the cloud. Simplicity was clearly the target here, and it has been achieved quite elegantly.

The main menu interfaces

Tapping ‘All items’ takes you to all your documents, letting you browse through them. In what seems to be a trend set by the big G themselves, swiping from side to side will change the filter, for example ‘owned by me’ or ‘starred’ – this is a much welcomed method of navigation, because it removes the need for buttons and thus gives more screen real-estate for information.

The problem I have found, which also seems to be the biggest gripe that other people have with the app, is that clicking on a document will bring you straight to the web version in the embedded browser that you would get if you were just in your browser. Many people were expecting this app to be entirely native, something like the GMail client or Calendar app, and so this may be a disappointment, but read on and see what you think.

Editing and Creating

Editing is really not that bad in the browser

When viewing previously-made documents in the browser-like state that you are presented with, simply clicking the Edit button in the top right will allow you to go ahead and make your changes. However it is just text-based editing currently – no photo adding or anything like that yet.

I just don't know why!!

By pressing the button to the left of the search button you can create a new document, optionally starting from a photo. Creating these documents takes you to the inbuilt web browser again if just creating a normal document, or after you have chosen your picture if you selected Document from Photo. What’s interesting is that if you choose to create a document using a photo is that it will automatically try to convert the text in the photo into text in the document, as seen in Goggles.

Now, I had varying success with this gimmick; sometimes it worked great, getting nearly every word of text, however in this case I did not (you can’t actually see the whole of the text from the image because its off-screen, but here is the original post by Connor Turnbull) and I thought I would show you what you are likely to get once in a while.

Conclusion

This app will not be for everyone, because quite frankly editing documents on a small screen is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and if your anything like me you’ll prefer to use a computer. However, Google realises that there are moments when you need to quickly edit, view, or create a document on the move, and that’s where Google Docs comes in handy: being able to access your documents anywhere with an Internet connection.

However, what many people where hoping for from this was a much more innovative way to do, considering the previous browser experience was not the most user-friendly; this app does make the process easier, but not drastically. To make this app so much better would have been the ability to create and edit apps natively, with easier and more functional controls, rather than merely a skin on top of the browser. Nonetheless, it is an improvement, and with a few more updates it could be a saving grace for people that edit documents on the go.


Summary

More a skin to the web app than a new app itself, it is still an improvement over the previous version and makes editing documents on your mobile easier than ever before.

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