Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Google Drive leads in features, lags in ease-of-use

Woody Leonhard | May 30, 2014
If you're looking for the most capabilities for your buck -- even if you aren't spending any bucks at all -- the Google apps deliver the goods.

If you're comfortable with Office 2003, you'll feel right at home in the Google apps. But if you prefer the more visual interfaces of current Office apps -- including enlarged icons that are easier to hit -- Google's apps will feel dated. They're certainly not as touch-friendly as the iWork for iCloud apps.

All of the Google apps support a "Web clipboard" that behaves much like the Windows clipboard. It even interacts with the Windows clipboard. Copy an item in Windows in the usual way, and you can paste it into a Google app. Copy it in the Google app, and it's available in Windows. I encountered a few oddities, where the contents of the Windows clipboard didn't quite make it over to Google Docs when pasted, but by and large the Web clipboard is an enormous help in transferring stuff from Windows itself into Google Docs. In this respect, the Google apps are light-years ahead of the competition.

To aid in page layout, Google Docs has a ruler, and all the apps have gridlines. Zoom is accomplished through the browser. If you rely on password-protected Microsoft Office documents, note that none of the Google apps can open them (nor can Office Online, incidentally).

Testing various documents in the Google apps using the various browsers, I didn't find any significant differences among Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Note that I'm referring to desktop browsers here. On mobile browsers, the Google apps do very little of what they do on a desktop browser. In fact, you can do less in Google Drive on a mobile device than in Office Online or iWork for iCloud, even when using Google's native mobile apps.

Google Docs

Google Docs -- the word processor (see Figure 3) -- has the largest selection of features of any online productivity app I've used. It offers an astounding number of open source fonts -- well into the thousands -- although using any but the most common fonts is a two-step process. As in Word Online and iWork for iCloud, the very limited set of paragraph styles can't be changed, but paragraphs can be formatted manually with bullets and spacing. There's full support for find and replace, numbering, footnotes, and headers and footers. You can even insert a table of contents, based on headings, which is far superior to anything in Word Online or Pages for iCloud.

Sharing and collaboration features include color-coded, real-time updates and support for a "comments" column. As with competing online suites, there's no change tracking. But Google Docs (and Sheets) has a rather advanced scripting language, which has given rise to many third-party packages. Neither Word Online nor Pages for iCloud has macro or scripting capabilities.


Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.