Almost every update of Google Docs and Sheets brings us closer to feature parity between the web and mobile versions of the service. The most recent update to version 1.6.232 of both apps falls in that category and although it might seem like it's just two trivial changes, it will be great for those who had to deal with these annoyances in the past.
First, Google Docs will now let you edit a document while you're checking it in the Print layout view. You can easily tap the edit pencil to make your changes. That should simplify the process of fixing alignments and page breaks and so on if you're preparing a document to be printed.
Embedding charts into a document is one of those basic office app functions that you take for granted. It's important that you can do it, but you may not see an obvious way embedding charts could be improved. Google did, though: rather than re-embedding every time the underlying data changes—which would require deleting the old embed and adding the replacement—you can now just click a button to refresh the chart.
This is one of those details that won't affect the workflow of a lot of people, but for those it does affect it will be a huge timesaver. If your organization shares a lot of documents, for instance, you might wonder if the graphics have gone out of date.
The problem of having files stored in the cloud is that they're not accessible when you're offline. For a while now, Google has been attempting to change this by making files on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides available to download for offline viewing or editing.
With the latest update to the three apps, any file that has recently been opened will be downloaded to your device. (Note: Slides has not rolled out yet, but we'll let you know when it does.) If you lose your internet connection, this file will be available offline. The changes you make will then be synced back once you've got an internet connection.
If you're preparing a presentation in Google Slides, chances are that you're going to be doing it in your native language or your secondary one. If you speak Arabic or Hebrew, however, you were out of luck because the Android app didn't support RTL languages. Now that's changing since the Slides app on Android is able to create and edit presentations in RTL on version 1.6.092.07.
As for Google Docs, it recently got a new outline feature that helped you navigate long documents by surfacing the different section headlines whenever you started scrolling through the pages. It turns out that the same version 1.6.092.04 of Google Docs hides another helpful addition and that's the fact that text is now selectable in the Print Layout view.
If you have long documents inside Google Docs, you've probably been annoyed many times by the lack of an easy way to skip through different sections or chapters. You could spend over a minute swiping through a long story for example to reach a chapter toward the end.
Google Docs' new outline feature solves this problem on both the web and Android. On the web, clicking Tools > Document outline triggers a pane to the left of the document that lists clickable headers for all the different sections. Even if headers aren't manually applied, Google will still recognize changes in formatting and detect the logical separations between sections.
Google added voice typing to Docs last year, but it was fairly limited. Today, Google is rolling out more features to voice typing in Docs. You now have control over formatting like text selection, punctuation, and copy / paste. While this is not strictly Android, it's pretty close and we think it's cool.
Collaborative features are a big part of the draw to Google's online office suite. Part of this is the ability for multiple people to edit documents from two locations at once. Since this can get hectic really fast, another important part is being able to communicate using comments. Now mobile comments look the same across Android and iOS in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Whichever app you're using, you can communicate in real-time.
In an APK Teardown many moons ago, Cody noticed a few common strings in the mobile apps of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, that hinted at the release of templates. It took a few months, but the feature has finally gone live on all three Drive apps.
Now when you tap the floating + action button to create a new file in any of the three applications, you'll see an option to choose a template. Tap that and you'll be able to pick any of the readily available preformatted styles that you've had access to on the web version of Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
If there's one place that Google Docs is a market leader, it's where it comes to collaboration. A web app was a natural place to build on the familiar commenting features from Microsoft Word and make them work in real time and without formal software requirements. On the other hand, we don't normally think about spreadsheets in those terms. With the latest updates to Sheets, though, Google is bringing comments to Android and the web.
I know I haven't even thought much about the need for this kind of feature in a spreadsheet app, but in hindsight it makes plenty of sense.