​Google Drive adds ODF support, voice search for Android, and app uploads for iOS

Ahead of the Christmas break, Google has rolled out a slew of Drive updates that improve file format support, file sharing and document search.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has released a trio of updates for Drive including support for importing Open Document Format (ODF) files, searching for Drive files from its Search app, and a way to share non-Google files as attachments in Gmail.

First up, Google has added support for three main ODF file formats. The update may give Google a better chance of bidding for work with organisations like the UK government, which from July required all office suites to support ODF, the format used by suites like LibreOffice.

The three ODF formats now supported in Drive include .odt document files, .ods spreadsheet fles and .odp presentation files. Google has updated its support page for converting files to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides to reflect the new ODF support. Previously, users could upload and view ODF files but not edit them.

Drive ODF support brings it up to par with Microsoft's Office 365 and its desktop Office suite, both of which support ODF.

Google also added a number of 'Office-friendly' improvements to Drive. "We support more complex SmartArt from older Powerpoint presentations, and last week's updates are also now import/export friendly, with support for merged cells in Word and slide numbers in Powerpoint," Google said.

Yesterday Google also updated its Drive apps for iOS and Android with new search and sharing functions.

Android users can now search for files stored in Drive from the Google app meaning, for example, they can use a voice search to find files. It also cuts out the need to open the Drive app and search for files by typing keywords.

The update for the Drive iOS app appears to take advantage of the ability in iOS 8 for apps to share data with each other. Now users can upload content to Drive from other iOS apps. The feature is only supported on iOS 8 devices.

On both platforms, it's also now possible to access and share custom maps created with Google's My Maps feature.

The update was available on iOS as of yesterday while the Android updates will be rolling out in coming weeks.

Finally, Drive users can now ensure recipients of files aren't in future locked out when a user changes accessibility settings. A new 'insert as attachment' integrated with Gmail allows the sender to attach non-Google files that are stored in Drive within a Gmail message. The one advantage of sending a link is that it gets around the sluggish experience of sending large files. The new 'insert as attachment' feature has a limit of 25MB.

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