For Google Docs users, it has always required an extra step or two to convert a Microsoft Office file into a usable format when reading or editing it with Google Docs or Apps. That little annoyance, however, is now a thing of the past.
Starting with Google’s latest update to Google Docs, both the mobile and Web-based versions of the applications automatically allow users to edit Microsoft Office documents without any intervention by a user, making it simpler and faster, wrote Ryan Tabone, a Google director of product management, in a June 25 post on the Google Drive Blog.
“Sometimes people send you files and you need to be able to open them, make some edits, and send them back,” wrote Tabone. “If they don’t use Docs, Sheets and Slides, it can be a challenge. Starting today, you no longer have to worry, because both the Web and mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides let you edit Office files—without conversion—so you can now edit and send back files in their original format.”
The new no-conversion editing capabilities are possible because the updated mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides now come with Office editing built right in, wrote Tabone. A new Chrome extension adds to the capabilities, giving users the ability to edit and share files directly from Google Drive, Gmail or from a Chromebook, where the extension is already installed.
Users will still be able to convert documents by making manual conversions, if needed, he wrote.
Another new update for mobile and Web-based Google Docs users is that they can now work on any Google Slides document at any time, on any device, both with and without an Internet connection, wrote Tabone. “We recently launched mobile apps for Docs and Sheets that allow you to create and edit files on the go, even if you’re offline. We’re rounding out the trio with a new Slides mobile app that’s available starting today on Android and in the coming weeks on iOS.”
The upgrades are being added to give Google Docs users more options when working with the suite, wrote Tabone. “Odds are, you don’t use just one device throughout the day—maybe it’s a tablet at home over breakfast, a phone on the train to work, and then a computer or laptop once you’re in the office. In other words, you expect to be able to get stuff done no matter where you are, which device you’re using, or what you’re working on.”
A new feature called “Suggested Edits” is also being added in the new version of Docs that gives users more options when working with a group on a document, wrote Tabone. “People love using Docs because it’s so easy to work together in one place, rather than making edits and giving feedback by emailing multiple versions of the same document. But sometimes instead of giving your collaborators free rein to edit away, you’d rather they make suggestions that you can accept or reject later.”
That’s where Suggested Edits in Docs comes into play, he wrote. “This new feature is now available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the Web, and is coming soon to our mobile apps.”
Google Docs Users Can Edit MS Office Docs Without Converting Them
Google frequently adds new features and services to its Google Docs and Apps products.
In May, Google expanded its arsenal of mobile management tools for Google Apps to help enterprises better manage Android devices and the capabilities of their BYOD users. The new features include an inactive account wipe capability that will allow enterprises to set user policies that will wipe an inactive account from a device if it has not been synced for a predetermined number of days, as well as new support for EAP-based WiFi networks, so that IT administrators can configure settings and distribute certificate authority-based certs for EAP, or Extensible Authentication Protocol, networks.
In March, Google said it was encouraging its existing Google Apps paying customers to promote the service to friends through a $15 per-referral cash bonus if users help Google sign up new paying customers. The Google Apps Referral Program, which is still going on, allows existing users to receive a maximum of $1,500 as a reward for up to 100 such referrals. The program is open to Google Apps users in the United States and Canada.
Google has some 5 million Google Apps users around the world, according to the company. The cloud-based Google Apps includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive storage, Docs, Sheets and Slides services.
Also in March, Google announced that it would drop support for the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server in March 2015. The coming change will affect Google Apps users with BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry OS 7 or earlier operating systems that are connecting to Google Apps through BlackBerry Enterprise Server version 5.0.3. By using the connector, enterprises could set up their Google Apps suite to integrate with BES, which allows employees to use built-in BlackBerry applications to access their Google Apps email, calendar and contacts.
In November 2013, Google announced that it would move all its Apps sign-in pages to have the same look for consistency and security, meaning that users will lose their personalization options. Under the changes, they also lose the ability to customize their Google Apps sign-in pages with their logos and other branding information.
In October 2013, Google unveiled a new feature that allows Google Docs users to share files with others who are not using Google accounts. The new capability allows guest Docs users who are not signed in to a Google account to be able to view a file, but not make changes or edits, according to Google.
The new feature permits, for the first time, users to share such documents with others who may not have their own Google accounts. Previously, users could only view such files if they were also logged into their Google accounts. Administrators and Google Docs users who already have file-sharing permissions can change the sharing settings as desired. The new file-sharing feature is available for users of Google Apps and Google Apps for Business, Education and Government.