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Posted at 4:46 PM ET, 11/17/2010

Google offers mobile editing on Google Docs -- with many restrictions

By Rob Pegoraro

This morning, Google announced that smartphone users could use its Google Docs site to edit documents on the go.

Make that some users, on some smartphones, editing some documents. The addition of mobile editing capabilities to Google Docs' word-processing component (its spreadsheet application gained that feature in February 2009) is subject to limitations that shut out much, if not most, of its potential audience.

First, you need to run the right device. Google supports most iPhones and iPod touches, as well as the iPad. But if your phone runs Google's own Android software you need the latest, 2.2 release. The Mountain View, Calif., firm's latest numbers show only 36.2 percent of active Android devices have this version.

Second, the document in question has to have been created with the new editor Google launched in April. Older files, even if you've worked on them since April, are ineligible for mobile editing.

On top of this uncoordinated mix of functionality and the lack thereof -- something I'm more accustomed to seeing in other companies' Web efforts -- you need to have this feature turned on in your account.

I'm apparently not among that group, and it seems I've got company.

Thing is, I'm not sure how much this matters. On-phone document editing, and in particular Microsoft Office document editing, was once a mandatory feature. I wrote quite a few reviews of early smartphones that graded them heavily on that one issue. But I don't see the same demand for that capability, to judge from how few complaints I've received after neglecting to discuss this feature in mobile-device coverage.

In my own case, I find that my need to work with traditional documents often ends with reading attached files in my e-mail. (That applies at home, too. The "Quick Look" feature Apple added to Mac OS X has become one of the things I miss most in Windows.) When I'm doing actual work on a smartphone, it's more likely to happen on a specialized site (such as our blogging interface) or an app designed for specific mobile tasks (for example, the recently updated Evernote).

How important is working on office-type documents in your own mobile experience? And if you're among the select few to have obtained access to Google Docs mobile editing, how do you like it?

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 17, 2010; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  Mobile, Productivity  
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Comments

How important is it? Not at all!!
I work on documents and such at the office, or at home if I need to for deadlines or if I'm working from home for the day. Meetings and such are handled with my laptop. Coffee shops, commutes, holidays, functions etc are all down-time, my own personal time.
Those that think they have to be on-line or active 24/7 are just delusional, especially so if they must use a 3-4inch screen device as a portal to their "work".

Posted by: sandbagger | November 17, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: lizhiyong120 | November 17, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Well since my old Windows phone and every PDA for the last 10 years has been able to create and edit Word and Excel. Its not that I am so important that I need to be working all the time where ever I am standing, but I collect data for difference reasons all day. My check book register has been on a portable spreadsheet for atlease 8 years. I keep a journal in Word and I will add to it anywhere and anytime. I haven't the time to boot a laptop up at 2am to jot down the details of my dream. I am so impressed that Google can almost do what my old Windows phone has been doing for 3 years.

Posted by: cyclecat1701 | November 18, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

I have no interest in owning a smart phone, much less using one for work. The screens are too small for me to see and the buttons / control surfaces too small for me to type with. Even small laptops and Ipad sized devices would be emergency only.


Posted by: robert17 | November 18, 2010 3:26 AM | Report abuse

My nephew travels the world with his smartphone and a USB stick. Pretty important to him on a business basis. As for me, it's convenient to access/edit a document (like I did for many years with Docs-to-Go on my Palm device) wherever and whenever I need to, without lugging around a laptop.

Posted by: versus1 | November 18, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I edit a Word doc on my handset to keep track of significant events/transactions and it's easily searchable that way too. I also edit an Excel file on my handset that keeps track of my vehicles' service repair and maintenance, along with other spreadsheets that track vegetable and flower yields in season, and plan my annual FSA contributions. So yeh, it's freakin important and yes, I want them on my handset for convenience, not on my desktop.

Posted by: Eludium-Q36 | November 18, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

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