Tech Posts

Spreadsheets and Google Drive – IRL

I had occasion to make use of Google Drive in a real way recently when I was asked to check a wedding budget. I had the Excel spreadsheet e-mailed to me, and attempted to open it in Google Drive. The iPad app has potential, but I think still currently falls short.

I should also disclaim, before I get too into this, that I’ve not used Numbers or any other purpose-built iPad-based spreadsheet. I’m sure that the experience would be quite a bit more streamlined. However, those then lose the ability to share and edit concurrently.

From the Mail app, I successfully loaded into the Google Drive app – and, it seems, it was immediately synchronised with my Google Drive devices. Although I could preview it in the GD app, there was no way that I could see to convert the Excel Spreadsheet to a Google Drive spreadsheet and hence no way to edit it.

Instead, I had to use the web interface set to “Desktop” mode, ignore all the warnings about the “browser that I’m using is not compatible”, and then open the spreadsheet for editing. At this point, I had a Google Spreadsheet Document that I could edit back in the Google Drive app – which seems a little-long winded, I thought.

Navigating around the app is a little different and took some getting used to. If the keyboard is visible, tapping on a cell puts you in “edit” mode. Excel-like shortcuts of tapping on another cell while mid-formula does not insert the cell address as I’d expect, but rather deselects the cell and selects the new one. Fair enough, but since this behaviour is exhibited by every (almost every?) other spreadsheet application, I had assumed it would work. Having said that, I’ve no idea whether this behaviour works on other iPad/touch-based spreadsheets.

The app could also do with a better forumla editor, and perhaps even a customised keyboard with useful things like “multiply” not being kept three keyboards deep. This just makes the app quite difficult to use for spreadsheet novices. It doesn’t seem too intuitive.

At any rate, the Google Drive app is becoming more and more useful with each revision. I look forward to seeing the improvements in the next release of the app.