Google is now making its business productivity apps for Chromebook owners available through the Chrome Web store to make them easier to obtain and use.
In addition, Google has renamed its three key productivity apps, according to Jonathan Rochelle, a Google director of product management, who wrote about the changes in an Oct. 23 post on the Google Chrome Blog.
"Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate and keep all your stuff," wrote Rochelle. "Of course, there are times you want to start a new document right away—say, to take notes in class or prepare a last-minute presentation for your boss. To make it even easier for you to create stuff quickly, Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations—now called Docs, Sheets, and Slides—are now available as apps in the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, shortcuts to these apps will appear when you open a new tab in Chrome."
Chromebook users will see the new Docs, Sheets and Slides offerings in their Chromebook apps list by default after the next operating system update to Chrome OS is completed in a few weeks, wrote Rochelle.
Chromebook users can install other useful apps for their devices from the app store, including Drawings, Forms, Script and Fusion Tables, according to a company post on the Google Drive Google+ page.
Google has been active lately with changes to its Google Docs, Apps and Drive offerings in the business and consumer marketplaces.
In late September, Google Docs announced plans to stop allowing users to save and export the Google Docs-created files using older 1997 to 2003 Microsoft Office file formats as of Oct. 1. But those plans have now been delayed until Jan. 31, 2013, due to complaints from users that they weren't given enough time to make the transition.
The Google Docs built-in exporting feature allows users to directly export Docs files into Microsoft Office using formats recognized by Office. Google Docs had planned, however, to stop allowing file exports using the older formats supported by Microsoft Office versions from 1997 through 2003. Google was trying to transition Google Docs users to only do file exports directly to newer versions of Microsoft Office.
The proposed changes will only relate to the use of the Google Docs file exports, however, meaning that users would still be able to import Microsoft Office files of any format into Google Docs on their own.
The built-in file export changes mean that files ending in older 1997 to 2003 Office formats, including .doc, .xls and .ppt, would have to be converted into the latest Microsoft Office formats, including .docx, .xlsx and .pptx, before they can be exported from Google Docs to Microsoft Office users.
Also in September, Google updated Google Drive to make it easier for iOS and Android users to modify documents on the go, see changes by others and view presentations more easily. Apple device users can now for the first time edit Google documents, giving them the same capabilities that Android users already had. Apple users can also now see other people's edits instantly as they're made.
Improvements for Android users included the ability to add comments, reply to existing comments and view tables in their Google documents. Other upcoming features, including native editing and real-time collaboration for Google spreadsheets, are in the works.
The Google Drive cloud service was launched April 24 after about six years of planning and talks about its intentions to introduce a cloud storage service. The Drive offering joined a busy cloud storage marketplace that was already packed with competitors such as Box and Dropbox.