Google Docs for iOS review: Google Docs gets offline mode, but still trails iWork, Office

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The Good Google Docs gives easy and efficient remote access to your documents. You can now make changes without an Internet connection.

The Bad There are no significant changes beyond offline editing. Google still doesn't have templates readily available.

The Bottom Line Google Docs delivers improved and streamlined user access, but it still offers far fewer features than competing services.


7.7 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 7
  • Interface 8
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

Google's productivity suite has been updated, separating the individual Google Drive services into standalone apps that include Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides (not yet available).

Less of an update, and more of a new way of thinking of Google's productivity suite, Google Docs gives you much of the same experience that you'd expect from the existing Google Drive iOS app, but with one important change.

Fortunately, you now have the ability to work in offline mode, which satisfies a longtime complaint about Google Drive. Sure, that's a big win, but competing services like Microsoft Office and iWork have had that feature for a long time. That, along with Google's shorter feature list and lack of templates, still places it behind its rivals.

So why would Google duplicate the same functionality in separate apps? I don't know precisely why Google is making this change, but it stands to reason Google is going to make Google Drive strictly for storage, and keep the apps separate from Drive for both visibility and easier update paths. With the apps as standalone downloads, people will know exactly which app to open for their specific needs and Google will be able to update each app whenever it wants without having to do larger Google Drive updates. Also, Google says it will remove the edit functionality from Google Drive, and instead point people to the new standalone apps.

For the sake of this review, I'm calling the whole suite Google Docs (because that's the legacy name), but what I'm really talking about are all three of the new standalone apps for word processing (Docs), spreadsheets (Sheets), and presentations (Slides).

Navigating the apps

When you launch any of the apps, you'll need to sign in with your Google account, and then you'll be greeted with a brief tutorial, followed by the familiar list of documents you currently have saved in Google Drive. The difference here, of course, is that you'll only be able to see files that work with the app you're using. Just as in Google Drive, you can view your documents in a list or touch a button to view them as tiles.

Once you're in a word processing document, you can edit directly, change format styles and fonts, and share with others for collaboration. Your work is automatically saved to Google Drive so you can access your work from any device.

The same is true for Sheets and presumably Slides (not yet available), making Google's suite of apps much more like Apple's and Microsoft's productivity suites that include a cloud storage option and three apps to cover the most basic office actions.

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