Android/iPad editing of Google Docs only weeks away

Microsoft may be "all in" on the cloud, but Google remains a few steps ahead on mobile collaboration.

There aren't many of us who produce extraordinary amounts of content on a mobile phone or even on our iPads. These are largely communication and media consumption devices. And yet, invariably, I find myself pulling up a Google Document or Spreadsheet on my Android phone and wishing I could just quickly correct a mistake I found, add a few rows to a sheet, or take a few quick notes in Docs, which is essentially my repository for everything. Within weeks, according to a Monday Google blog post from their European Atmosphere conference, this sort of editing is just around the corner when we access our Docs and Spreadsheets from Android or iPad devices.

The access will be browser-based rather than app-based, but given the state of the art in mobile browsers (Safari, Dolphin, and Skyfire all provide great experiences), this is hardly a problem. In fact, it's yet another shot fired across the bow at Microsoft, whose Windows Phone will be able to edit and access documents in Sharepoint, but isn't anticipated to allow the real-time collaboration that Google Docs users will be able to experience on the desktop or, shortly, their mobile devices.

According to the announcement,

...today we demonstrated new mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the Android platform and the iPad. In the next few weeks, co-workers around the world will soon be able to co-edit files simultaneously from an even wider array of devices.

Another stab at one of Microsoft's more prized server products wasn't lost on the folks at ComputerWorld:

Also today, Google demonstrated progress in adding collaborative editing of Office documents for Docs users on Windows desktops and laptops, a move that would let companies do without SharePoint, one of Microsoft's top money makers.

The Docs-to-Office integration will rely on on a "ribbon" that users will add to Office to link the suite to Google's online storage and tools. DocVerse, which Google acquired last March, is developing the ribbon.

There are other third-party applications that handle this, but Google acquisition of DocVerse means that a native Google plugin for Office will remove one more barrier to adoption of Google Apps. Acknowledging that Office remains ubiquitous in business, but positioning themselves as a collaboration platform that can rival SharePoint is a bold move, but the low cost per user of Google Apps makes it attractive in a variety of business and vertical markets.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story, however, is Google's choice to make the features available on the iPad's browser. It's a pretty clear statement to Apple that if Google owns the web, they hardly need access to Apple's App store. All of Apple's anti-Google posturing becomes irrelevant if Google continues to make browser-based, cross-platform, compelling products. It also further devalues iOS exclusivity when the best applications are accessible through a browser only on both iOS and Android.

As Google said in its blog,

Only cloud computing is able to deliver the whole package of productivity-enhancing collaboration, superior reliability and virtually unlimited scale at a price that’s affordable for any size organization.

And who's currently king of the cloud? That's right...Google.

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