Google Drive Mobile App 4/4/13


Up until recently every app I selected for review was chosen for its positive qualities. I wouldn’t write a review for many apps that show up in popular lists because they didn’t meet my standards. Also, my reviews are primarily for free apps. My original goal was to build a list of exceptional, free apps to benefit classroom teachers. I find myself encountering more apps that are popular and when I check them out I find they are limited, or feel they don’t measure up to the hype. Now, I know when an app falls short, but if I don’t write a review about it you DON’T know. This week, Google Drive happens to be an app that falls into my new category of an app that is popular but is limited.  Does it mean that you shouldn’t download it? I can’t say but it does mean that “App of the Week” featured apps may take on a more comprehensive style including a wider range of apps.

The Google Drive app provides a clean, concise view of your Drive folders and the ability to edit your documents and view your presentations and spreadsheets. The Google Drive app is free for both Android and iOS devices. I think I expected more from the app than what is capable. But don’t write it off yet because all things Google typically get better with time. Also, if you are accessing your school “Google Apps for Education” (GAFE) account, you will experience limits based on what your school has set-up, but you can ignore any references to limited space. GAFE users have more space to save files than public users.

The word to focus on with the Google Drive app is ‘concise’. You can only edit your Google Documents & Spreadsheets-. The editing features are very basic. Here’s what you can do:

Change the font

Adjust the Style (bold, italic, underline)

Adjust Justification

Add numbering and bullets to lists

Indent text

Add comments to the document

Add people to collaborate on the document

Make files available offline *This is a great benefit!

You can still access your Google account through a browser on your mobile device. You will find more features but mobile browsers don’t support all features so you are still limited.

There are differences between the iOS and Android versions. Obviously the Android version works much better. For example: You can edit a table, that already exists, in a document on an Android device but not on an iOS device. You can sign out of your Google account easily in the iOS version but you have to go to settings and delete your account from an Android device. Deleting an account isn’t the same as signing out if you ask me.

Probably the best feature of all is the ability to view/edit offline. This is most helpful when students want to view or edit a file when they don’t have internet access. Keep in mind that in order to edit while offline, another app will edit the file. This means that the edited file would have to be re-uploaded to Google Drive when a wi-fi connection is re-established. On the Android device the offline file will trigger the available word processing apps you have installed. On the iOS device, you can ONLY view the file within Drive or some other app that is able to read a PDF.  So, there is no re-uploading either. When testing the iPad, I chose a presentation to view/edit offline. I have Keynote installed but it did not appear as one of the choices to edit my Google Presentation file. This was a big disappointment to me. This occurred because an offline Google Presentation is downloaded as a PDF. That means it’s not editable with keynote. So, I tried a Google Doc File to see if Pages would be triggered to open. No such luck. You can’t edit a Google Doc File at all without a wi-fi connection on and iOS device.

So this “App of the Week” isn’t a home run and I may recommend using an app called Google Apps Browser by G-Whizz on the iOS device when you need to edit your Google Drive files offline (Yes, you can download AND edit with Keynote & Pages with Google Apps Browser by G-Whizz). Google Apps Browser by G-Whizz is free, with ads, or has an ad free version for $2.99. There’s more to Google Apps Browser, like access to G-Mail, to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for your Google Docs needs.

Download Google Drive for your Desktop, Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad)

Download Google Apps Browser by G-Whizz (for iOS only)!/id393753220...


Follow App of the Week on Twitter @tccsapd