Google Docs Coming to iPad in "the Next Few Weeks" to Slap iWork Around

iPad Google DocsThe iPad is slowly moving toward full laptop capabilities. With the release of the newest firmware update, the iPad can now both print and run multiple apps at a time, two of the shortcomings most frequently cited by those wanting to use the iPad as a full laptop or netbook replacement.

Though the iPad may never be quite as able a workhorse as a laptop, Apple has done its best to bring productivity tasks to the platform with iWork. iWork is a suite of three apps, including Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presentations), sold separately at $10 per app. The three iWork apps are consistently near the top of the iPad App Store charts and are very well regarded, but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement—or competition.

Google's Docs web apps are widely used, from consumers to business to government, and praised for their low (or free) price, cloud-based benefits like simultaneous editing, and flexibility. Up until now, Google Docs has had a very limited presence on the iPad, allowing documents to be viewed but not edited. Today, however, Google very casually (as in, mentioned among small updates in a blog post about a European cloud-computing convention) announced that Google Docs will be coming to the iPad as well as Google's own Android.

The full content:

We’re launching new cloud-powered capabilities: two-step verification to help enhance security and soon, mobile editing in Google Docs on Android and the iPad™.

Today we demonstrated new mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the Android platform and the iPad. 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.

That's about all the information we have, which means it's time for some speculation. In what form will Google Docs hit these mobile platforms? Google could opt for a standalone app, like Maps, Earth, or Voice, or for a Web app optimized for touch (like Gmail on the iPad). The latter might be more likely, if only due to the quiet way it was announced, in the midst of a post extolling the virtues of cloud computing. That brings its own problems: Those without 3G-enabled iPads (or simply without service) would be unable to view or edit documents, a limitation not shared by Apple's iWork.

[Image credit: Business Insider]

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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2 Comments

  • Dominic Pettifer

    @Sam Crawford

    Not Google's fault, the iPad's Safari browser lacked support for Rich Text editing, which Google Docs obviously relies on for performing editing of documents (make things bold, italic etc.).

    I'd imagine the new iPad firmware (iOS 4.2?) adds this capability to Safari. Or Google are simply making a native App version.

  • Sam Crawford

    Eh, This should have been available upon launch of the iPad. Cool though. I still like iWork for creating certain documents. No need for anyone to be slapped.