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Google Drive leads in features, lags in ease-of-use

Woody Leonhard | May 30, 2014
If you're looking for the most capabilities for your buck -- even if you aren't spending any bucks at all -- the Google apps deliver the goods.

Whereas Apple has built a nearly impenetrable wall around its iWork for iCloud apps and makes you jump through several iCloud hoops to get data into and out of the applications, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive both play nicely with Windows. Like OneDrive, Google Drive integrates with Windows Explorer/File Explorer through a downloadable client. To make life easier, you should install the Google Drive client on your Windows PC (or Mac) and work through the native file system just as you would with any other files.

Test Center Scorecard

 

Features

Ease of use

Compatibility

File management and printing

Value

Overall score

 

35%

25%

20%

10%

10%

 

Google Drive

8

7

6

9

7

7.4 Good

             

While you're working on a Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides document, Google keeps a copy on its servers. That way, if your connection goes down, your revisions are still in the cloud. Google also keeps a version history, which you can use to retrieve the last major revision.

Google has the best file printing of any of the three suites. Print from any of the Google apps by clicking File->Print. The app kicks in Google's Cloud Print, which can print in many ways. If you have your printer set up for Google Cloud Print -- very easy in most cases -- the printing experience closely parallels the way you would print from any desktop app. If there aren't any Google Cloud Print printers around and you can't get to one remotely, you can opt to print from your local computer or to generate a PDF that gets stored in Google Drive.

One not-so-little trick up Google's sleeve: If you work with the Chrome browser, you can run the Google apps offline on your own machine. Every time you reconnect to the Internet, your docs get updated automatically. You'll find full details on the Google offline access help page. (If you're using Chrome OS, you don't need to do anything -- offline capability is already turned on.)

Common features of all Google apps

While the Office Online user interface stays true to the Office Ribbon and the iWork for iCloud apps sport elegant, minimalist command bars, the Google apps interface is anything but minimalist. As you can see in Figure 2, the apps (in this case, Google Sheets) have both menus and ribbonlike icons that, in Microsoft Office 2003-like fashion, cover a wide range of document construction and formatting bases.

 

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