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Google Docs bolstered by standalone mobile apps

by Mark Tyson on 1 May 2014, 11:45

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

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Google released standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets yesterday, now allowing users to create and edit documents without having to access the service through Google Drive.

Users who have downloaded the mobile apps can now work on their documents offline and retrieve their files more quickly. When the apps are opened, the layout is very similar to how it looks within the Drive app, and the user's most recent edited files will be shown, eliminating time wasted digging through Drive for them. Its Offline Mode will automatically sync any changes made during the absence of data connection back to the cloud once data is restored.

The apps are now available on Google Play and in the App Store and Google also announced that its new presentation app called 'Slides' will be coming soon. Accessing documents through the Drive app is still possible, but it is likely that Google will be encouraging users to download the new apps when editing or creating a documents in Drive.

Google is clearly trying hard not to be outdone by its rival Microsoft's Office Suite, which was also recently released on the iPad.

Google giving students their privacy back

Google has announced that it is no longer scanning Gmail accounts to collect private data from students and education users for personalised advertising. From today, Google is completely turning off ads by default in Apps for Education services, permanently removing the "enable/disable" toggle that used to allow users to turn the ads back on.

The company also announced that they are making "similar changes" for all Google Apps customers, including Business, Government and for legacy users. The changes will be discussed on a Hangout on Air on the Google for Education G+ page at 9am PT today (5pm in the UK).

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Docs and Sheets are the 2 things I use most in Drive (apart from shifting small zip files between systems), so they are welcome extras. Good job on those.
Well, each to his own, but personally, FAR too little, FAR too late.

Given that Google only now seems to be giving some recognition to the notion that user's privacy isn't Google's personal, private property to do with as they wish, and given ….

Its Offline Mode will automatically sync any changes made during the absence of data connection back to the cloud once data is restored.
…. then my reaction is still, no way in hell am I using Google apps, or services, for my documents. Not now, not ever.

I'm sure lots of people will, either not knowing, or not caring, about Google's propensity for minding (and mining) everybody else's business, but personally, hell will freeze over first.
I don't use Google Docs for “important” documents and spreadsheets - those are still confined to the desktop and MS Office. But for quickly making notes on my tablet or pasting code snippets on a remote PC that I can grab on another instantly, it's quite handy. They are welcome to the zero personal information they can extract from that :)
Agreed, virtuo, but my first concern would be that I'd forget what to put where. My second would be that once I have a cloud account and have installed a cloud sync app, something gets sync'd that I either didn't mean to sync, or want to sync. Or even that something, deliberately or otherwise, changes my settings.

Basically, it's a balance between privacy/security on one hand, and convenience on the other. I err a long way towards privacy/security, and the price for that is sacrificed convenience. For instance, there is NO ‘personal’ data on my tablet. None. No names, no phone numbers, not even so much as a single calendar appointment. And definitely no credit card or banking details. The only ‘personal’ information is an email address required to initialise the tablet, and that hasn't been used, not even once, since. I've never even looked to see if there's any incoming mail.

As for “important” documents, well, with me it depends on the definition. I do have lots of very personal information on computer, including bank statements, medical records and personal letters. They're encrypted, and on a machine that doesn't have an internet connection. Security, if you like, consists of air-gap firewall, and encryption. And, off-site backups (of encrypted files) in a safe.

Some documents, less personal but still important, are on a machine with a net connection (if that office switch is on). Still encrypted, of course. And some machines have nothing beyond standard firewall, AV and anti-malware measures, but little important or personal data, and a 24/7 connection, at least when they're powered up.

It's quite hard work, and at times downright inconvenient, to go even to those extents to protect privacy, and IMHO, impossible in today's world to be completely private, but you can go quite a long way towards protecting privacy with relative ease, and for me, step one is avoiding cloud storage (not just by Google) entirely, and avoiding Google services or even a Google account. Few things would delight me more than the certain knowledge that Google computers were utterly unaware that I even existed, but given the extent of modern data mining, I'm not that naive. So, all I can do, and therefore do do, is take whatever measures I can to not give them one more byte of information than is absolutely unavoidable.

An example? Buying a standalone SatNav rather than using one in a device, like a phone, that is capable of “phoning home” with my GPS co-ordinates, and moreover, buying that device because it can't phone home and report in, to Google or anyone else.
Nice changes, just wish they turned the privacy setting on for everyone immediately and not just educational accounts….