Why most iPad users hate Google’s new Docs and Sheets Office-like apps

May 10, 2014

Just two stars. It’s how iOS US users are currently rating the Docs and Sheets Google apps on the App Store.

While some users gave them five stars, many, many users go with just one.

Docs and Sheets were launched just a few days ago, as spinoffs of the main Google Drive app.

This was generally seen as a smart move by Google: By “unbundling” the Google Drive app functionalities into separate apps for text and spreadsheet editing, Google was better countering Word and Excel's recent arrival on the iPad. In the mobile world, the general thinking goes, it’s better to have one app for a very specific set of core tasks, rather than a wide, portal-like range of capabilities.

But most long-time Google Drive users don’t see it that way.

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, says a user's comment in the App store which summarizes the general feeling.

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Most users do appreciate the one improvement provided by the two new apps: the ability to create and edit documents offline – while the previous Google Drive app’s offline capability was limited to reading documents.

But this comes, in most users’ eyes, with two major drawbacks:

1.   The need to switch from one app to another. While the switch is usually smooth, users don’t like to be forced into opening a new app.

2.   Most importantly, Docs and Sheets only present documents as a list. Users can’t see the folders they have organized their documents in. Many users say they have hundreds of documents on their Google Drive – some of them with the same name but sorted in different folders. Now, with just a flat, long list of documents, these users are lost and frustrated.

Additionally, for users who followed Google’s cue and installed Docs and Sheets, they can no longer use the old Google Drive the way they did previously. It still works as a hub for documents access – folders included. But as soon as users want to work on a document, they are redirected to one of the dedicated apps.

As a result, the Google Drive app rating, which was at three stars or more before the recent change, has plunged to one star and half – even below the Docs and Sheets apps average rating.

Meanwhile, Word gets three stars on the App Store and Excel, three and half. This, while Word and Excel require an Office 365 paid subscription to be used to their fullest potential, while Google apps are entirely free.

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