Google Launches Dedicated Docs & Sheets Apps (Slides Coming Soon)

Yesterday, Google introduced Docs and Sheets as standalone apps for it’s Drive productivity suite for iOS. Google Slides are reported to be coming soon. Here are some of the early reviews from the app store:

“Not very good”
“Still lacking major features”
“Still no way to edit tables or images”
“OK but not anything groundbreaking”
“Still no spell check”
“Waste of time” 

Two reviews that students and teachers may want to pay close attention to are:

“Great, but where’re my folders?” This review went on to say, “That said, having used Docs for years now, I have my own filing system to sort through my hundreds of docs. After opening this app, rather than seeing my own system, I saw all of my docs lain out by their most recent time of access, rendering the app functionally useless. So, it’d be great to see more Drive and folder integration.”

An educator’s review stated:

“Only shows 3 documents in my Google Drive (out of approx. 500). I am a teacher and I collaborate with colleagues using Google Drive. I have over 200 documents on my personal My Drive and several other hundreds that have been shared with me that I’ve also put in My Drive. The app only shows 3 documents with no ability to see the others! It’s useless until this is fixed!”

What the students think

Several Help Desk students have already installed the new Docs and Sheets app and all of their Drive files appeared, however there were no folders. Students then went back into the Drive app to start a new Doc. They were pushed out of the Drive app and the Doc app automatically opened. Students did not seemed to be phased very much by the changes to Drive. They equated it to when Facebook launched a stand alone messaging app. That being said, they did express confusion as to why Google is making this change, especially when the functionality does not appear to be increasing. When one my students opened the app he stated, “this is pointless.” Students are predicting Google will roll out additional features and increased functionality.

What the teachers think

Similar to the user whose review is mentioned above, I have developed my own system of file management. Obviously using folders was a big part of that system, as was having the ability to edit files in Drive. While I still haven’t had much time to explore with the Docs apps, I am not thrilled about this move. Neither is Dennis Villano, the Burlington Public Schools Director of Instructional Technology. After discovering the change, Dennis Tweeted, “I’m very disappointed with (the) Google Drive app update requiring use of two new apps and elimination of editing in Drive.” Dennis went on to say, “I think it’s a bad idea-especially in the education world-requiring more apps is not the right way to go.”  This is especially true since at the current time there is very little increased functionality in the standalone apps.

Offline and mobile

The only new feature the Docs app seems to be offering at this time, and heavily promoting, is providing automatic offline access to your files. Now users can create, view, and edit files without an internet connection. Beyond that, there’s not much to the “new” Docs app. CNET’s review states Google has introduced more of a philosophical change, versus a real update. Other critics speculate that the move is Google’s attempt to compete with Microsoft and iWork. According to Google’s official blog, the vision is for Drive to serve as a storage area, with the standalone apps being used to create and edit specific files. In all fairness to Google, we do realize this is a 1.0 version release. The version 1.0 release of Drive wasn’t all that impressive either. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes next…

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