Image 1 - Google Drive Seeks To Build Productivity Suite In The Cloud
May 10, 2012

Google Drive Seeks To Build Productivity Suite In The Cloud

Derek Walter for

Many comparisons have been made amongst the major providers of file syncing services. Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, SugarSync and iCloud all offer a variety of strengths and shortcomings for those looking to keep their files in sync between computers, smartphones and tablets.

But Google has something more up its sleeve with Google Drive. While it will sync files, it also is building an online productivity platform where some users could perform all of their work from the cloud.

For example, when opening certain types of files, users are presented with an “open with” dialog that allows for editing it from within Google Drive. These apps can be installed from the Chrome Web Store. Then simply select which app should open a particular file and begin working with it right from within Google Drive.

With images, the Pixlr Editor is a popular option. It has many image tweaking tools that are like a simplified version of PhotoShop. While it may not be as robust as a desktop application, it performs admirably for someone looking for a cloud solution.

It also offers one of the main strengths of cloud computing — the ability to pick up work from any computer with a web browser. This, of course, comes with another limitation; the inability to work on files when not connected to the Internet (users of the Google Chrome browser can install an Offline Docs application that allows for some editing while offline).

Also, Google Drive will view files from apps that you may not have on your device, such as PhotoShop or Pages. This can be especially useful when someone sends you a document but you don´t have that specific application.

And of course any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file can be opened and edited with the equivalent Google application. There are still, however, formatting issues that sometimes occur during the conversion process. Word documents with multiple style fonts or images and Excel files with more complex formulas are especially susceptible to these issues.

Android users can view and make some minor edits to their docs and spreadsheets with the Google Drive Android app. While most of the editing is fairly light on the feature side, it is still extremely useful to be able to tweak a document or spreadsheet while on a mobile device. Also, users can keep track of edits made by any others who may have been invited to collaborate on that file.

Google has been slowly picking away at Microsoft´s productivity suite dominance for years. While Office still is still the dominant desktop operating system, Google Apps are making some inroads in education and enterprise. The collaboration features, which allow for users to edit and chat within the file in real-time, are also quite popular.

Also, last year Google made over 200 updates to its Google Docs service in order to make it more robust and competitive. It now has enough features to make it a true alternative for those wanting to embrace the cloud-style of productivity.

As more apps work become available for Google Drive, it has the potential to continue to evolve into a dominant productivity platform.