I'm going to start this off by saying that I don't actually like the stock Google Drive app for Android. It does everything you need it to and works pretty much as advertised, but there's just something about it.
Luckily, Google has just released a new API that allows third party developers the option to implement realtime Drive features within their apps. As Google puts it, the Google Drive Realtime API now handles "network communication storage, presence, conflict resolution and other collaborative details," so essentially developers can just apply the API and get to coding.
What does that mean for the rest of us? Well, quite frankly it just means we'll probably start to see more third party apps that support Google Drive features, in both desktop and Android form.
Any third party app that makes use of the new API will be able to provide document editing for content stored in Google Drive, and that includes anything associated with that action. For example, with the new API you can even see current collaborators who are also editing a group project.
Just like the desktop version of Google Drive, the new API will allow third party apps to synchronize and update data with active accounts automatically. I'm glad to see this because soon I can switch to a third party app instead of the stock Google Drive app on my Android.
In the past, the synchronization of collaboration data was somewhat of an issue, so it's a pretty crucial element in the new API. You can see changes that other collaborators make in realtime, directly on your mobile, and there will be multi colored labels to show exactly who changed what, and where. Some apps that have already started using the API, even provide you the option to chat with colleagues about your collaboration efforts.
At this point in time, there are three main apps that have already started using the new Google Drive Realtime API.
- Neutron– Online text editor that supports source code (DESKTOP ONLY)
- Gantter– Online project organization tool with full chat room support (DESKTOP ONLY)
- Draw.io– A fully functioning diagram drawing app, that supports flowcharts, diagrams and illustrations (DESKTOP ONLY)
Unfortunately, the apps I just mentioned, seem to be targeted to a pretty niche group. For example, not everyone out there is going to have use for an online source code editor or diagram app. Still, it's exciting to see that developers are already supporting the new API, and it's even better to see it working as advertised.
Maybe now I can get away from the stock Google Drive app without losing access to all the features I love most about the service. Come on developers!