Jumat, 17 Januari 2014

Google Docs vs. Pages for iCloud

Google Documents vs. Pages for iCloud

The past few years have seen a big push by technology companies to get more and more things done “in the cloud”.  Both Google and Apple have been key players in this arena.  I think it’s safe to say that Google has done more, and done it better, than Apple.  Where Apple’s strength has resided in hardware and integration of its software to that hardware.  Apple did get a head start with their “cloud” services, introducing .Mac back in 2002.  .Mac provided email service, 100mb of storage, plus hosting of your website(s).  Apple charged $100/year for this service and it was not very good.  Two years later,  Gmail came online.  It was the beginning of Google's “cloud” services,  and for the most part got rave reviews (I’ve been a GMail users since the summer of 2004).    Apple more or less stumbled through .Mac, which was later replaced by MobileMe in 2008.  One of MobileMe’s intended uses was as a syncing technology for content on your Apple devices (poor man’s iCloud).  Sadly MobileMe was a constant source of headaches for users and Apple.  Meanwhile, Google was quietly building (and buying) a cache of better than adequate “cloud” products and tools.  Which leads us to today’s blog, where I compare Google Docs to the newly released Pages for iCloud. 

Google Docs had a significant head start, as it’s been around (in various forms) since 2005.  It officially came out of “beta” status in 2009, giving it an unofficial  four year head start over Pages for iCloud.  Google Docs provides Google users with a free web-based word processor.  If you have a Google account, you simply log in, click on Google drive, then Click Create, and you have the option to create a Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form or Drawing.  

If you click on the Document option, The screen capture above is  a glimpse of what your document window looks like for Google Docs.  Similar to many desktop word processors you have a full set of menu options.  Left to right you have File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table and finally Help.  Below are the File Menu options.  One option you may notice to be missing is the Save and Save As options.  That’s because with Google Docs, as you edit, it saves automatically.

The next menu option we’ll look at is the Edit menu option.  Again very similar features to most desktop word processors, from the Undo option, down to Find and replace. 

Another menu option I want to point out here is the Font option.  On the 2nd row of tools, the Row that starts with the Printer icon, in between the Style button, and Font size button is Fonts.  When you click on the Fonts button, you only get 8 fonts off the bat.  Don't fret, you have the ability to choose more.  Simply slide down to the more fonts option and you'll find a rather exhaustive list of fonts for your writing pleasure!  

Another nice feature of Google Docs, is the ability to share your documents with your co-workers, friends, family, teachers etc. etc.  Simply press the Share button.  Once you do, you'll be prompted with the screen capture you see below.  Google creates a link, you can share via email, Google+, Facebook or Twitter.  You can even have multiple people editing a document at the same time, not that you'd want to...:).  

Now I’m not going to go through each menu option here, the point I’m trying to get across to you, is that you’ve got a nice option here with Google Docs if you are looking for a free on-line document creation tool.  Oh yeah, did I mention it's free, as long as you've got a Google account.  Also, Google Docs can be created on any browser (using any computer), and the documents can also accessed on your iOS (and Android) devices as well, through the Google Drive App.  

This is a great tool which gives you incredible flexibility with your documents.  Create them from your computer, and when you are on the go, or away from your office, use your iPhone or iPad to edit the document as you need.  

Ok, now let's see how Apple's Pages compares to Google Docs.

It’s taken Apple considerably longer to bring the iWork suite online, but, at least they’ve done a better than average job now that Pages is available.  To use Pages (in iCloud), you must have an iCloud account.  To access Pages, you sign into iCloud.com and simply click the Pages icon (see below).  

What you see above is the new landing page.  All new icons (to match iOS 7).  On the lower row, you'll see Pages, Numbers and Keynote.  To start a new document, simply press the Pages icon.  If you already are a Pages user, your screen will look similar to mine below.  You'll see your documents, and perhaps folders if you've chosen to create them.  If you are a new user, you'll only see the + icon, which is what you'll click to create a new document.

Interestingly, folders are created on your iOS device.  As of this writing, with Pages still in beta, you can't yet create folders from the browser.  Document folders work the same as App folders on your device.  You can drag a document into the folder, and also out of the folder (from your device, not from a browser).  Ok, let's move on to creating a new document.  An AWESOME feature in Pages is the ability to choose from numerous document templates!  This is something NOT offered in Google Docs.  So whether it's just a plain document you need to create, or a report, or letter or resume, Pages gives you multiple templates from which to choose (see three screen captures below).  Advantage Pages!  

There are more templates than the ones I've shown above.  There are envelope templates, business card templates, flyer and poster templates, card templates and finally newsletter templates.  Apple has really taken into account what type of document you may be creating, and given you some great templates to help you make the best document possible!

For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to create a blank document.  Here's what it looks like.

As you can see, you are presented with a new window.  Unlike Google docs which opens up within Google drive.  Not that it really matters, but with iCloud Pages, it really looks like you are using a desktop application!  Along the top, you have a button to enlarge, or shrink the page.  You have Undo and Redo buttons.  Next you see buttons for Text, Shape and image.  Clicking Text will drop a text box on your document.  Clicking Shape will provide you with a series of shapes you can add to your document.  Finally the image button will let you add an image to your document.  

Now Apple recently updated the Mac version of Pages.  Ideally, it look and works exactly the same as the web version.  This is great as you only have to learn how to use it one place to be able to use it anywhere!  The iOS version also has the same interface.  

On the above screen capture, on the right side, you see options for your text.  First you have paragraph style, below that Font, then Alignment, Line Space, Paragraph Spacing, List Style, then finally Indent.  All the options cleanly laid out, easy to see, and more important, easy to use!

Pages in iCloud alleviates the need to save your documents.  It simply saves as you type.  Google Docs also does this.  It's a wonderful feature that saves you the worry of wondering if you saved your doc and when it was last saved, and you can't put a price on that!

Similar to Google Docs, Pages gives you the option to Share your document.  Along the top toolbar (above), you'll see the Share button.  Press it and you'll see a window like the screen capture I'm displaying below.

Click the email button and you can email the document link to multiple people, who can in turn edit the document and save it back to your iCloud!  Nice...

Pages let's you share the document in multiple formats as well.  You can save it in either the Pages format, Word format or as a PDF.   Google Docs only lets you save as a Google Doc type.  Another win for Pages.  

The Tools button gives you a series of choices (the screen capture below).  There you have the Find & Replace option, additional settings, Help.  You can also download a copy, email or print the document, go back to all your docs, or finally Sign out.  

One other item of note for pages, it lets you upload a Word document, edit it, and even save it back to Word format.  Can't do that in Google Docs.

I really love what Apple has done with Pages in iCloud.  It's a wonderfully full featured cloud based word processor.  Like Google Docs, it's free (to those with an iCloud account).  I highly recommend trying and getting comfortable with it.  If you have an iPhone 5S or 5C or iPad Air, you can download Pages for those devices for free.  Giving you the ability to have your documents with you anywhere you go.  

In conclusion, both cloud based word processors are very very good.  They are easy to use, full featured, and give you access to your documents where ever you are (via your iOS devices).  Not to bash Microsoft (even though I thoroughly enjoy doing that!), as they also have a cloud version of Office (Microsoft 365), but guess what?  They charge you for it!  $99 dollars a year, or $9.95 a month.  Why bother when you have two great options that are free!  

I hoped you enjoyed today's blog, and I hope you try one or both of these cloud document tools out as it's the future, and it's better to be comfortable with it sooner rather than later!

Until next time, best to you and your devices.  And as always, I welcome your comments.


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