Google Docs for Android gets collaboration, rich text

Google has yet again given the Android version of Docs a major upgrade, this time adding the collaborative and rich-text editing functionality found on the desktop version.The update for Android smartphones and tablets rolled out on Wednesday, just a few weeks after Google added offline capabilities — also a feature of the desktop iteration — to the mobile app.

Google has yet again given the Android version of Docs a major upgrade, this time adding the collaborative and rich-text editing functionality found on the desktop version.

The update for Android smartphones and tablets rolled out on Wednesday, just a few weeks after Google added offline capabilities — also a feature of the desktop iteration — to the mobile app. The collaborative element of the upgrade makes it possible for teams of colleagues to work on a single document together in real time.

"We've brought the collaborative experience from Google Docs on the desktop to your Android device," Google software engineer Vadim Gerasimov wrote in a blog post. "You'll see updates in real time as others type on their computers, tablets and phones, and you can just tap the document to join in."

The new version of Google Docs for Android also includes other notable tweaks. A new pinch-to-zoom feature makes it easier to focus on a particular paragraph or zoom out to see the document as a whole, Gerasimov noted.

The mobile productivity tool now also includes rich text formatting, bringing in what desktop users consider to be basic options — bolding or colouring text and creating bullet-point lists, for example.

The cloud has become a major alternative to desktop document-editing applications in the last couple of years. While Google has arguably been at the forefront of making the concept of web-based productivity suites viable, more traditional players such as Microsoft and IBM are also now getting in on the act.

However, as the company behind the increasingly popular Android OS, Google arguably has the means to develop on-the-go versions of such tools more quickly than its rivals can.

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