25 April 2012

ReadWriteWeb: “Google Drive Doesn't Go Far Enough - But It Could”

Collaborators can comment alongside any file, just as they could on Google Docs before. But Google Drive doesn’t allow editing of documents. Opening the files just launches Google Docs in the browser, whether on a desktop or mobile device.
We don’t even have an iOS app on launch day, but Google has shown it to us. It’s just a viewer, no different from the Dropbox app. Android users do have native Google Docs, but the rest have to use the browser. On the mobile Web, that experience is severely limited. Jon Mitchell

My experience exactly. The mobile version of Google Docs on iOS is a pain to use, it refreshes constantly (probably to store changes online) and keeps logging me out. From this report it looks like Google Drive isn’t going to improve on that, at least not for iPhone users. Not having the iOS app ready for launch at the same time as the Android version seems to be a trend lately with Google – the Gmail app for example, or the feature to instant upload photos in Google+ – going against what most other developers do, which is launch for the iPhone first. The only explanation I can think of is that Google is trying to support Android, to promote it as the best way to use Google services – an anticompetitive, Microsoft-like, approach, that will only hurt the initial adoption of Google Drive.

In the end Google Drive doesn’t really offer much else that you don’t already get from the competition. I’m not a heavy Google Docs user, so the whole “collaborate and share” angle is lost on me. It also uses a single folder to store files locally – just like Dropbox and SkyDrive – which is weird in my opinion. Why should I adapt my behavior to an app instead of it integrating seamlessly into my existing workflow? The promised mobile app will be read-only, again like Dropbox and SkyDrive, which limits its usefulness greatly. The lack of a good cross-platform note-taking app (OneNote is not available in the Romania iTunes Store for some arcane reason) made me finally create an account with Evernote. As far as I understood, the biggest downside compared to other cloud-based services is the lack of local editing for Google Docs files – that’s another feature left for an uncertain future date; for me it diminishes the potential uses even further. Google Drive is simply too little, too late.

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