Yes, I said spiffy. One of the questions most frequently asked of me is how to work on documents across devices and ensure that changes made in one place show up everywhere. There are plenty of different options for reaching this result, but one of my favorites is Google Docs. In its early days, Docs was a super-stripped down word processor that primarily offered the ability to access the document from anywhere. Heavy on the access, light on the processing feature set. But Google has been steadily improving the interface and the tools, making Docs more like a replacement of your local processor, rather than a supplement. And mobile improvements are high on the priority list.
Case in point. Google Docs Blog has just announced a few nice new features specifically designed for Android, including the ability to designate certain files as available for offline access and write-ability and improved view on Android-powered tablets. For files that you’ve selected to make available offline, Docs will automatically update the changes when you enter Wi-Fi. Or manually update when you are in a data connection by simply opening the file. For tablet users, get ready for a high-definition version of your document when viewing online. Swipe left and right to navigate through pages or use the slider at the bottom for quick maneuvering.
Some people are put off by working with their documents on their phones or tablets, but I have found the ability to do so very helpful in certain circumstances. Google Docs and Android users now have even more to love about mobile word processing.
Moving in the opposite direction, there’s a new way to work locally and act globally, or more accurately, in the cloud, with the newly-released-to-everyone Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. This service allows two or more to work on the same Microsoft Office file (2003 forward / Windows PCs only) and back it up using Google Docs.
Cloud Connect adds a toolbar to the Microsoft Office interface. With that toolbar, you can give Microsoft Office the same online capabilities as Google Docs. You also can give Google Docs meaningful offline capability.
The killer feature is sharing and simultaneous editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files from within office, but via the great Google cloud. Synced files are continuously backed up and fitted out with a unique Web address for sharing. Even offline edits make it up – Google Cloud Connect will sync those changes the next time you log onto the Web.
Don’t worry if you get too crazy with the edits – Cloud Connect stores previous versions and you can roll back to earlier versions if you want. When there are two or more edits to the same section at the same time, the user can choose which version to keep.
All you need is a free plug-in and a Google account. Google Cloud Connect works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. However, sadly enough, it doesn’t work with Microsoft Office for Mac. Not sure if there is any hope for a Mac version in the future.
You can download here Google Cloud Connect onto your capable machine running the eligible Microsoft Office versions. And get cloud backup and collaboration within the Google ecosystem for free.