Google announces offline editing for Docs, and Google Drive for iOS

A version of Chrome for iOS was also part of the second day of the company's Google I/O conference

Google kicked off the second day of its I/O conference by announcing offline text editing for Google Docs, and a version of its Drive storage service for Apple's iOS.

It also announced a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS, and demonstrated the software running on Apple's iPad and iPhone.

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The offline text editing is available now in Google Docs, and Google is working on offline editing for its spreadsheet and presentation applications, the company said in its day two keynote at the conference.

The updates mean Google Docs users will be able to edit documents on a plane, for example, and then synch the changes to the cloud when they reconnect at the other end.

The offline capabilities will step up the competition between Google and Microsoft. Google emphasized that Docs is a viable product for the enterprise as well as consumers: Five million businesses are using its cloud applications, it said.

A Google Drive app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch will be available from the App store later Thursday, Google said. It's also developing a version for its own Chrome OS.

In Chrome, Google Drive operates as the local file system, said Clay Bavor, director of product management for Google Drive. He showed how a user can search through a folder of scanned receipts and find a particular receipt using a keyword search. The receipts are stored as image files, but the Drive application uses optical character recognition to index the text in the receipts.

It can also index images. Bavor showed how a user can store their photos from a vacation in Egypt in Google Drive, for instance, and then search for "pyramid" and locate photos with pyramids in them, even though the photos are not tagged with the word "pyramid."

Google also showed how Google Docs and Google Drive can work together to allow "real-time collaboration." It showed how three users can edit a text document simultaneously from three different devices, and have the changes all appear on each of the three screens.

Referring to users' increasing tendency to use multiple devices, Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Chrome and apps, said, "It's not just at home: It's the same person who leaves home and shows up at work, and they demand the same experience."

The company also announced an on-demand computing service called the Google Compute Engine, which will compete with Amazon Web Services' EC2 offering.

Cameron Scott covers search, Web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.

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