Google Rolling Out Desktop Like Features To Docs, Sheets and Slides In Latest Update

I'm a long term user of mobile word processor applications, having bought QuickOffice the best part of fifteen years ago for my Palm IIIxe. I subsequently bought Documents-to-Go, which was bundled with a new Palm OS device and it was only until early 2014 that I switched away from Documents-to-Go to the Google Drive application on the Android platform. Although, as a point of reference, Google acquired QuickOffice back in the summer of 2012 so in some respects, I've simply moved back to QuickOffice. However, my point is that until relatively recently, Google's bundled applications with Drive were not as good as I needed them to be. And Google have been working on Drive and the companion applications, too, but it has been less of a focus for them (compared with Microsoft, where their equivalent of Office 365 and One Drive is currently their best product). If you are unfamiliar with Google Drive's productivity suite, there's Google Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheet number crunching and Slides for presentations. These applications are also completely free.

Each can seamlessly handle Microsoft Office format files (thanks to the QuickOffice involvement) as well as Google format files. There are real advantages of having both formats supported by the application: one is that Google Docs files do not take up any of your Drive space, so you can have as much material in this format as you want, there's unlimited space. Docs format also allows great sharing and collaboration features, too. Microsoft Office format is still the most universal of formats and it's important for me to be able to edit or submit documents in this format. Of these three applications, Google Docs is my most commonly used application as I do almost all of my writing using it. The application is already powerful and (for the most part) reliable, too, but it's always good to see Google polishing their products.

The news today is that Google is rolling out updates to these Google mobile applications to include more desktop-class features. Google Docs is gaining real-time spell checking during editing and typing, Google Sheets gains the ability to hide specific rows and columns and Google Slides will gain the ability to group shapes and objects when working with presentations. Google have also improved the accessibility features of these three applications so that Android's TalkBack functionality is now compatible and have improved on the magnification functionality, too. For iPhone users with the newer devices, there's a small improvement for the iOS handset which means users can protect their files using their fingerprint.

The updated applications will be going live in the Google Play Store as I type, so if you have the applications, hit up the Play Store for the updates. Google tends to stagger updates over a few days so if you don't have the updates waiting just yet, they'll be with you soon. Meanwhile, do you use these three applications on your Android device(s)? If you do, what's your favourite application? And what do you use it for? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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