Since the launch of the iPad, Google has been tweaking its cloud-based office suite in order to make it more mobile-friendly, and finally released earlier today an updated version of the service, designed to provide a better experience to iPad users, via a new, simplified interface.
According to Mickey Kataria, a Google Docs engineer, “Today we’re also releasing a mobile version of the Google Docs viewer for Android, iPhone and iPad to help you view PDFs, .ppt, .doc and .docx files you’ve uploaded to your documents list, without needing to download the file”.
The most notable features for iPad users are page switching, and pinch zoom compatibility. We gave the new service a shot, and it does indeed provide a much better experience on the iPad – still not as good as what you can get from Microsoft Office or Apple iWork, but Google is slowly getting closer to the real deal. Also, the updates are mostly meant to improve the rendering of the documents on the iPad, so do not expect to be able to easily edit them on the fly just yet.
Note that while most Word and PowerPoint files worked just fine, we still experienced a lot of issues with spreadsheets, as the rendering of most spreadsheets is less than desirable, and manipulating them on the iPad is still very clunky, and overly sluggish.