Using Google Apps On The Ipad Safari Browser

10/3/2012 6:32:17 PM

A couple of months ago, Google released the Google Drive app on the App Store. However, it doesn't come with built-in editing features. To be able to edit documents such as spreadsheets or word processing files, you will need to go to the Safari browser. This is a headache because it lacks the features of the desktop Safari and other browsers in editing mode. It would be nice to have Google add full desktop editing features on the iPad, but even the Chrome iPad browser lacks such features for now. Apple probably needs to update its mobile Safari APIs or Google has to figure out a way to make the editing process more transitional between iOS and desktop Google Docs.

Description: Using Google Apps On The Ipad Safari Browser

Editing documents on the iPad and mobile devices has a lot of potential. It will save you $10 purchasing iWork or other iPad productivity apps that usually cost more than $.99. Even if browser editing doesn't improve, you can bet that Google will add these features in the Google Drive app over time. You can use Google Docs to create and edit two types of files on your iPad: spreadsheets and documents.

In this guide we will focus on what you can do in a limited way when editing Google adds on your iPad. Even though editing features are limited and you have to transition between two main modes (desktop and mobile) from your iPad, it is still great to be able to edit cloud documents through a browser. The iPad is really a tool that should open up the potential for future SaaS to be implemented through Safari. Google Docs shows this potential although it isn't fully realized yet.

Note that in mobile mode, you can switch to desktop mode by clicking on an icon that says "Mobile." It is located under your e-mail address in the central-lower part of your browser. However, you will need to tap the back arrow in your Safari browser to get back to mobile mode once you are in the desktop mode. Let's start with creating a blank document:

STEP 1: the first step is to open Safari and type in the Google Docs URL in your browser: It will automatically turn to, signifying that Google recognized you are connecting to the cloud service via a mobile browser.

STEP 2: you may be asked to login to your Google account, if you aren't already, using a service such as Gmail. Next, on the Google Docs home screen, you will see a list of documents you may have saved or started working on in the past. These are the documents you can edit if you do not want to start editing from scratch. If you click on a file, you will see how it has been edited thus far and can continue editing by clicking on an edit icon on the right side of the screen. For our purposes in this guide, we will start a blank document.

STEP 3: click on the icon on the right side of your screen that has a small pen showing a piece of notebook paper. Click on either "document" or "spreadsheet" depending on what you want to work on. Then enter a title and click on create.

Spreadsheets are lists of tiles that are useful for data gathering. If you've ever used Numbers in the iWork suite, you should know what to expect. However, you cannot add rows or columns in the mobile editing mode. You can insert rows and columns in desktop mode and see the entire layout of all spreadsheet cells, with empty cells showing as well instead of just a few at a time like in mobile mode.

The desktop mode for spreadsheets will actually allow you to highlight text and insert text from your iPad, unlike when working on word processing documents. It is recommended you work in this mode when it comes to spreadsheets. However, you still will not be able to insert image files into the document cells, or take advantage of all desktop features on your iPad. To switch from mobile to desktop modes, click on the "go to spreadsheets view" icon in the lower left of the interface.

STEP 4: now you should be in editing mode and can familiarize yourself with various commands available to you. The mobile modes are very simple and will pretty much only let you insert text into word processing documents or edit a few cells in the spreadsheet mobile mode. Some of the commands that you can still do on your iPad, in desktop mode, include changing font colors, word count, using a define word tool (dictionary), and more. You can also change fonts and insert tables into the documents.

Your documents and spreadsheets will save automatically in the cloud. You will be able to access them from the main menu or home page on Google Docs whether it is on a mobile device or a PC/Mac.


If you want to rename your document or spreadsheet, exit the mobile mode in Safari from the main menu and go to the desktop mode. Once you are in this editing mode, either click on the document or spreadsheet's title or select the drop down menu from File and click on Rename. You can then rename your file to anything you want.

To delete a file, you will also need to be in the desktop mode. Then you will drag a Google Drive icon along with an empty box near your file under Title. Click on it to leave a check mark and tap on the Trash Can icon to delete it. You will not be able to delete from the mobile Safari mode on Google Docs.

As you can see, Google Docs can offer some great tools. When editing in browser mode, there is still a lot to be desired, but the potential is there if mobile Safari compatibility improves. Let's hope that one day desktop and mobile editing becomes seamless and that you will not have to shift between modes on the mobile version. The idea of collaborating on documents with co-workers on an iPad is something that should be a reality once the Google Docs compatibility improves. Using a mobile browser to shift through documents on the go, from the iPad, is a concept that will only improve in time -not just with Google Docs, but other SaaS cloud software.

 (AppleMagazine - 17 August 2012, page 85-89)

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