Google Docs offers a handy way to view and edit your documents on the fly. It's now a separate app from Google Drive, though it is heavily integrated with Google's cloud storage service, giving you easy access to documents stored there.
What's the point of Google Docs?
Google Docs lets you create and edit text documents on your phone or tablet. It synchronizes with your Google Drive so you can open documents that you've already been working on either on your device, on the web, or on another device.
One of the key plus points of the Google Docs app is that it lets you collaborate on documents, giving you the ability to edit in real time with others. It's a very seamless process and is great for remote working.
Another great thing about the app is that it supports offline viewing and editing, meaning you can work without an internet connection. The app supports auto-saving too, so you never need to worry about remembering to press a Save button.
In terms of editing features Google Docs handles all the basics: changing fonts and point size, formatting paragraphs, inserting tables, and annotating documents with comments.
There are plenty of features missing from Google Docs which you'll miss if you're looking for a more comprehensive formatting tool. For instance, you can't insert images or hyperlinks, you can't tweak column widths, and there's no support for document encryption. There's no word count in Google Docs, either.
A big turn-off for many will be that Google Docs doesn't fully support DOC and DOCX files (i.e. Word documents). So if you're looking for a way to edit Word documents on your mobile device, you should go for a solution like Google's own QuickOffice, the excellent KingSoft Office, or Microsoft Office Mobile.
You should note that Google Docs only supports text documents. If you want to manage spreadsheets you should download the separate Google Sheets application.
What's it like to use?
Google Docs has a fairly basic user interface, though it's generally very easy to get around. The main pull-out menu gives you quick access to your documents from Google Drive, including starred items, plus docs that are stored locally. You can view documents as a list or in grid view, with thumbnail previews shown to help you quickly identify what's what. Unlike the Android version of Google Docs, you don't get the ability to browse folders.
Once you've opened or created a document, editing features appear in a ribbon above the document panel. On an iPhone the editing options can be a bit fiddly since you need to slide the ribbon across to see all the tools. The iPad support is great though, and the larger interface provides a very comfortable way to format documents.
One improvement that the would benefit Google Docs would be the inclusion of tabbed documents, which KingSoft Office does so well. This would make it much easier to work with multiple documents at the same time.
Not for everyone
For basic editing of Google Docs, the app does a good job. It makes it easy to work with documents you've already created and collaboration support is great.
If you're a Google Docs user this is a must-have app. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive editor or if you work with Microsoft Word files you should look elsewhere.