Google probably should have launched a Google Docs app for Android about two years ago. The ability to view, edit, create, and collaborate on documents would have been a major selling point, and it seems like a no-brainer for a company with one of the top mobile operating systems and one of the top cloud-based office suites. Better late than never, I guess, because today Google finally got around to launching a native Google Docs app for Android, and the company is making up for tardiness with a few awesome features including the ability to scan text into Google Docs using your phone’s camera.
Google Docs for Android lets existing Google Docs users access all their existing text, spreadsheet, and presentation documents. You can search your Google Documents or filter by items you “own” or starred items, and open files for viewing and editing on your mobile device. You can also upload documents from your phone and share items with anyone in your phone’s contact list.
The app comes with a home screen widget allowing you to jump to starred documents, take a photo to upload, or create a new document.
The document editor isn’t all that powerful, and appears to be basically be the web-based version you’ve been able to access in a mobile web browser for a while. Google Docs also doesn’t appear to save any documents locally, which means you can’t view or edit documents unless you have an active internet connection.
The best part of Google Docs though is the OCR (optical character recognition) feature which lets you create a document from any photo, or shoot a new photo with your phone’s camera to convert any printed words to text. There’s no support for handwriting, but if you want to scan a document, printed page from a book, or other text just point your phone camera at it and shoot away. Your results may vary, but odds are you’ll have better luck if you have a camera with autofocus.
Google Docs for Android is available as a free download from the Android Market for Google Android 2.1 and up.