December 11, 2010
Google made it possible to edit and create Google Docs documents with your iPad on Nov. 17, but the editor it introduced was optimized for mobile and lacked many features of the desktop version. Late Dec. 9, the company introduced a link that lets you switch to the full version of the editor to access those features.
I readily admit that I haven’t put in much time with Google’s web-based iPad Docs editor, but part of the reason for that was that I just couldn’t do many of the things that I do using Google Docs-linked iPad text editing apps like PlainText and Writer. An all-Google solution is appealing in that I don’t have to update my documents after the fact if I want the most current version to be available from wherever I happen to be, but even with a more robust feature set, can Google Docs on the web work as your only iPad document-editing solution?
The desktop version brings font and alignment changing, bulleted and numbered lists and adding links, among other things. If you’ve ever used Google Docs on a computer, you’ll be familiar with everything, as it’s the exact same web app. The full Google spreadsheet editor is also now available in addition to the mobile client, which allows you to insert formulas from the formula bar.
Whereas Google’s mobile Docs editors are little more than glorified note-takers, the desktop editor at least offers you useful tools that go beyond simple data entry. But it does so in a layout that isn’t optimized for the iPad in the way that native apps or even iPad-specific web apps are. In portrait mode, things look too small to be very usable, and every time I actually start editing, the first line of my document gets pushed up under the margin ruler at the top of the input field. Arrow keys on the Bluetooth keyboard (something I think is a must for knocking out any serious writing on the iPad) don’t work for navigating within the document, either.
I’m glad Google’s turned on editing for Docs on the iPad, because I wanted it desperately when I first got the Apple tablet. But native apps have come out that allow me to interact with my Google Docs, and I haven’t looked back. Now I can make small changes right in Docs itself, but ultimately, this is yet another release from Google that I can live quite comfortably without.