Mobile

Google Docs editing finally comes to mobile browsers — but how useful is it?

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Dear Google: If you keep this up, I won’t have any more excuses to be unproductive on my phone in transit.

Google announced today that Google Docs users can now edit their files in mobile browsers on iPhones and devices running Google’s Android operating system.

Google Docs users could already access their files and view them. They can now select a new edit function and add or remove information as they see fit. The functionality extends to Google’s Spreadsheets, a cloud-based version of Microsoft’s Excel, as well as its word document editor.

The mobile document editor is certainly useful. It allows people to edit their Google-hosted documents from anywhere. In theory. In practice, editing documents on a mobile device can be a real challenge. There’s the small screen to begin with, and the keyboard takes up most of the screen on most phones. Editing spreadsheets is particularly unwieldy, as the user interface changes to show very large text boxes.

Google Docs is already a strong player that offers a free collaboration service for businesses that have multiple employees strewn across the country. While one member of a team edits a document, other members can see the changes in real-time. Yammer and Salesforce’s Chatter, two other huge players in the business collaboration space, already have mobile applications. With Google Docs already behaving as a collaboration service, the next logical step was to take it mobile.

Google doesn’t provide details about how Docs is doing, but it says the app has “tens of millions of users.” And Google Apps, the bundle of business tools that includes Docs, has signed up 2 million companies with more than 25 million users total.

Microsoft also recently brought all of its Office applications online in response to Google’s increasingly popular web document applications. The alternative Microsoft offered before release of its Office 365 suite was paying for its Sharepoint program, a file-sharing and collaboration tool that integrates with its Office suite. But with collaboration providers like Yammer and Google becoming increasingly popular, Microsoft has been forced to move its services into the cloud to compete.


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