First Look: Google Docs for Android

I was very excited to see Google release an Android version of Google Docs on Wednesday (Support Page and Marketplace Link).

Many of the limitations seen in using iPad to access Google Docs apply with this app as well: creating/editing a doc is mostly limited to text, nothing complex. While I can view and edit most of the docs on my list, I have one doc that will not let me edit–I am still trying to determine why. Viewing a spreadsheet is good as expected for a small screen, but editing is a more convoluted: each row has an Edit button which will display an editing mode (a row of boxes) for that row of cells; click the Submit button when you are finished editing.

One interesting feature is Document from Photo. Take a picture of text and the OCR (optical character recognition) feature will convert the photo to text and place it in the word processing document. I was amazed at how well worked with small text. I fit nearly a whole letter in my viewer which made the print very small in the photo and it actually did much better than expected. I am looking forward to testing this feature more.

Google Docs for Android is a good choice for people to accomplish these tasks:

  • viewing docs, spreadsheets, and presentations (trying to open drawings produces the message “No viewer can open the given file”)
  • simple editing of text in docs and spreadsheets
  • creating new simple docs and spreadsheets
  • capturing text with a photo and converting it to text in a doc

If you are looking for this to be a laptop replacement, you will be disappointed. There are many, many features available for computer browsers that cannot be achieved with this app. Also, I have not found a way to access my Google Apps account yet which I hope to resolve soon. If you keep your expectations limited, this free app is a first step to accessing Google Docs from your Android device.

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