Why Google Docs will be a 'killer app' for tablets

Google says it will introduce a tablet-friendly version of Docs that will be compatible with the Android mobile OS and iOS4

Google on Monday announced that it will introduce versions of Google Docs for tablets running both the Android and Apple iOS4 mobile operating systems. Google made the announcement as part of a larger news release about new authentication tools for Google Apps. By offering Google Docs on tablets Google can now compete more squarely with Apple and its popular iWork mobile apps for its iPad tablet.

While short on details, Google says its tablet-friendly Google Docs will allow documents, spreadsheets and presentations to be collaboratively edited on both the iPad and Android based tablets such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The promise of a strong office suite accessible in the cloud is a tantalizing one for many tablet jockeys.

"[T]oday we demonstrated new mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the Android platform and the iPad," Google Enterprise President Dave Girouard wrote at The Official Google Blog today. "In the next few weeks, co-workers around the world will soon be able to co-edit files simultaneously from an even wider array of devices."

Although Girouard's remarks were vague, it was reported elsewhere that the new technology Google will be rolling out is based DocVerse, which the search giant bought in March.

Sure, Google Docs can be edited on smartphones now, but anyone that's tried to edit anything on those small screens knows how unappealing that is. If you're editing something on a smartphone, chances are it's because you have to, not because you want to. "I've found it to be a chore to edit especially when compared to the desktop version," wrote Martin Perez at IntoMobile.

Tablets, with their decent sized screens, change that. Maybe that's something Google is starting to realize. After all, Apple's word processing and spreadsheet apps are best sellers at the iTunes store. In fact, Business Insider estimates that Apple will make more money from its iWork apps for the iPad than Google will make from its entire enterprise application division. If Google could cut into that market need, it might make a pile of money for itself.

Now that Google has raised expectations among tablet owners, however, let's pray it doesn't crash those expectations with a down-sized version of its desktop app. At least in the iPod market, which already has an existing robust app called Quickoffice for working with Google Docs, such an offering would have limited value. Still, there are those who would find even an app with minimal functionality worthwhile. "To be able to use Docs to store and manage files on the cloud is quite a dream come true and should add considerable value to the iPad and Android for workers on the go," wrote CruchGear's John Biggs.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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