The Google Drive iOS app makes it easy to create word and spreadsheet documents that sync across many platforms and operating systems. Instead of emailing attachments, you can collaborate on the same documents at the same time with others- or you can choose to only let them comment on or view your work. Moreover, you have the option of features like Two-Step Verification if heightened data security is a must. Best of all, Google Drive grants you full access to all of its features and 5 GB of cloud storage for free. On iOS devices, this allows you to upload photos and make new Google word and spreadsheet documents; with a computer you can add any file or folder you want as an easy backup option. If you need more space, you can pay monthly for up to 16 TB of storage; 100 GB costs a mere $4.99 per month, for example.
To use the Google Drive iOS app, you will need to be using iOS 5 or later. You will also need to use an existing Google account or create a new one so that you can sign in to Drive. If you wanted to edit your account security or just about anything else, simply log into your Google account using a browser. If you are using an iPhone, you can use Two-Step Verification together with the Google Authenticator app for added security.
Once Google Drive is installed, you’ll be able to use many (but not all) of the same tools and features available with the online versions of Google Documents and Spreadsheets. If you want to edit a given document in your Drive, tap it and then tap the Edit button. This will translate the document into plain text, so if you want to see what it will look like online, tap the View button. Have photos you’d like to share or back up? You can upload from an album or take a picture within the app by tapping the Add (‘plus sign’) button located in the upper-right corner.
To share any document from within the app, first locate its folder and tap the arrow next to the title rather than the title itself to access the document’s settings. Tap the Add button next to the Who Has Access section to allow exactly those people you want to see, comment on, or edit only those files you want to share. Once you do, you’ll be able to see who’s viewing your document and the comments and edits they are making in real time; the same holds for the other users. This makes collaborative writing and speadsheet-making incredibly easy. Google Drive also makes sure that every iOS update instantly appears on your Macs, PCs, and Android devices that have Google Drive installed and linked to your Google account.
One key drawback of Google Drive is that you can only edit documents while connected to Wifi or cellular. However, you can still view documents without a connection by selecting Available Offline through the document’s settings page. Depending on your iOS devices, the contexts in which you use them, and your needs, this may require another app to supplement your Drive.
Together, Apple’s iWork for iOS and Documents in the Cloud offer a powerful alternative to Google Drive. You can create and edit word documents, spreadsheets, and even slideshows both online and offline using the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps, respectively. Each of the iWork apps offers many formatting and sharing features that Google Drive does not, including the easy insertion of pictures from your Photos app. When it comes to editing documents, iWork looks gorgeous compared to Google Drive in particular. As for security, your iWork data will always remain encrypted whether its stored on your device or being synced. Moreover, you can view your iWork documents at <icloud.com> from Macs and PCs alike. On PCs, you can even download your iWork documents from this website in Microsoft Office format, edit and save them, and then drag the document icons onto the screen at <icloud.com> to upload them. (Note: you can only create new iWork documents using the iWork app on a Mac or iOS device.)
That said, Google Drive does have some advantages that iWork and iCloud do not. Drive lets you collaborate in real time with those using just about any computer or mobile device. While it is easy to email your iWork documents to others in Microsoft Office or PDF format, real time collaboration is not possible. Drive is also free; on the other hand, each iOS iWork app is $9.99 and each Mac OS X iWork app is $19.99. Of course, once you download an iOS app you can install it on any of your other iOS devices in the future; the same hold for the Mac OS X apps. And a security feature resembling Google’s Two-Step Verification is not available.
Since Google Drive is free, I recommend using it alongside those iWork apps you will use frequently. Sophisticated formatting and slideshows will demand iWork, while Google Drive offers the real time collaboration missing from iWork.
What do you think about using Google Drive and iWork (with Documents in the Cloud) on iOS devices? Tell us about your insights below!
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Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.