Today I wanted to post a few quick thoughts about Office, iWork and Google Drive. I use them all (for different things) and I believe it gives me (and you) a valuable snapshot as to what strengths each service currently plays to. In the old days, Microsoft was the only real show in town when it came to word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools with Word, Excel and PowerPoint–until Google came along and mucked everything up (for the better, in my opinion) with the introduction of Google Docs. Docs offered a free alternative to Microsoft Office that was pretty barebones when it launched but has since morphed into Google Drive. Drive is a product that combines the tools that used to be Docs with storage options meant to compete with Dropbox. Apple’s iWork was basically a suite of tools for staunch Mac enthusiasts until the recent iPad and iPhone boom which thrust their Office competitors (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) into the limelight. So much for a brief history of boring work programs. Now for my thoughts.
As I mentioned, I use each of these 3 options a little bit and in different ways. Until very recently, I had Microsoft Office installed on my Mac just to make it a bit easier to open mostly Word and Excel documents that came across my desk from the older generations of workers around the office. I say until recently because when I got my latest computer, I skipped the install (even though our office has a volume license).
I am a BIG Google Drive user for one reason–word processing. When I do some typing (non-blog typing that is) I always always always use Google Drive these days. It’s simply too convenient. As an IT Director, I can appreciate the bare bones interface: people are always asking me how to do things in Word but nobody ever has to ask me how to use Google Drive products. Additionally, it’s a killer feature to be able to share the documents with other people and even have them edit them simultaneously. Killer. I use that all the time, even for content related to DailyTekk (sharing between the team).
I, like many iPad owners, have installed the iWork suite of apps including Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I basically never use Pages, although I wanted to like it and got a keyboard for my iPad just to type with it. It’s just too clunky and I have to say I don’t like the skeumorphic design feel. What I do use more often is Keynote (both on iPad and on my MacBook Air). When I have to do a presentation, there is no comparison: Keynote kicks both PowerPoint and Drive’s Presentation to the curb. Why? It is compatible with AirPlay, it has much cooler effects and it is easier/sleeker to use. Every now and then, for special applications, I will use Numbers on my iPad for the form function and the form function alone. For instance, if I have to go around the office to collect info from people, the form function is a much nicer (and quicker/easier) way of inputting a lot of data without clicking into each cell.
I admit that I haven’t had much experience with Office’s online offering–I’ve just had no need. I have a Google account so I use Google Drive. I was checking out the site, however, and found this hilarious photo which I took a screenshot of from the new Office promo video. As if some dad is showing his little kid Microsoft Word and laughing at how awesome it is!
When it comes to cloud/syncing capabilities, you can’t be Google Drive. iCloud is a great idea, but it still is a bit flawed and it pains me to say that because I am an Apple guy. Anyone who has ever had to go to iCloud.com and click upload to sync a Keynote presentation knows what I mean. It should just work, as does Google Drive. If you create something in Drive it is there no matter where/how you access it. If I create a Keynote presentation on my computer, I have to manually tell it to sync via iCloud.com to get it on my iPad. Possible, yes, painful, yes.
So that is how I use each of those products at the moment. I’m sure that will change in the very near future as Microsoft, Apple and Google continue to innovate and disrupt each other’s business plans. But for now, at the start of 2013, here is where I see the strengths of each office suite competitor:
- Wordprocessing: Google Drive
- Spreasheets: Google Drive
- Presentations: Keynote
Of course different situations will warrant different programs–as I mentioned, most of the older users around the office are used to Microsoft Office being installed on their computers locally and therefore prefer to get spreadsheets in Excel format (often times I will just download a Google spreadsheet in Excel format in those cases).
What do you think? How and when do you use these programs and what is your current favorite/go-to?