Tech Note: Google Apps and Google Drive vs Microsoft Office and OneDrive syncing

Just an update of Google Apps vs Microsoft Office on OneDrive –

There are a few nuisances with Google Apps, such as it not recognizing the iOS keyboard Control-Shift shortcut to switch between languages, and no laser pointer in the iOS version of Slides. But when it comes to syncing, Google Apps (Docs and Slides) and Google Drive is a whole different world from Microsoft Office (Word and PowerPoint) and OneDrive.

In Office, with documents syncing through OneDrive, you don’t see the synced changes on either the Mac or the iPad side until you “save” the document. Then syncs are brought in from the iPad and syncs are sent to the iPad (after a bit of time). In other words, there is no real-time collaborative editing of documents. That surprises me. I did a Microsoft Support chat just before, and that was the Microsoft tech person’s opinion as well.

On the other hand, with Google Apps on Google Drive, if you have a file (Docs, Slides) open on the iPad and the Mac at the same time it’s a real-time change that occurs. You can even select text on one device and instantly see it selected on the other device. Very cool! All changes are mirrored instantly on both devices.

Google Apps is a clear winner here on that point. That plus the fact that you can edit for free on all devices (which you can’t do with Office) makes Google Apps the obvious choice to use for class presentations, and for students to learn these basic apps.

Tech note: Google Drive and Apps vs DropBox vs Microsoft OneDrive and Office

I found this article interesting and useful (

One error was that the author says the free 15 GB of Google Drive space is also used by Mail and Google Photos. If you use the default high-quality optimized photos option then Google Photos is unlimited and doesn’t eat up your Google Drive space.

I did finally buy a yearly 100 GB Google Drive subscription recently, because decades of email had finally reached 15 GB. That’s only $20/year.

Currently I pay for that, $100/year for 1 TB of DropBox space and $70/year for Office365, which includes 1 TB of OneDrive space.

I don’t find the OneDrive space that useful because of file size limits and things break when folder or filenames are in Japanese. That doesn’t happen with DropBox. So I find I’m not really taking advantage of the included OneDrive space.

I find the DropBox syncing speeds generally faster, and find it easy to use and share different DropBox folder with different friends and clients. It has been very reliable. I would hate to give that up. DropBox doesn’t really have “apps” so DropBox is just my go-to solution for file syncing and sharing.

I’ve been playing more with Google apps the last few days and have been impressed with how well they work for a browser-based solution. It’s pretty cool. I can actually watch myself select text on my Mac and see it selected at the same time on my iPad. It’s eerily fast considering that it does this via the cloud. I can move lines around on my Mac and see them move at the exact same time on my iPad. And vice versa. Same with my iPhone. My impression was that this is faster than with Office apps.

Of course with Office365 you get the actual desktop clients to work with. It seems those are generally easier to use on my Mac than doing things in the Chrome browser interface. While I’m impressed with how well the web interface does work, there are also web-based limitations and awkwardness in the UI that you don’t see in the Office apps on your desktop. Still, the web-based apps work surprising well.

So right now I’m paying a total of $190/year for 1 TB of DropBox, 100 GB of Google Drive and 1 TB of OneDrive bundled with Office365.

Note: I have an old “grandfathered-in” Google Suite account for my personal domain and company domain, so those accounts remain free for up to 50 users in each domain.

It’s not bad in total, but I feel I get the least use out of OneDrive.

I have a question I’m pondering right now. I teach a volunteer class in computer skills for seniors and disabled people on Sundays. I’d like a free solution for them. I am debating whether to start the students with Google Drive plus Google Apps, or OneDrive plus I’m leaning towards Google because (1) there is more free space; (2) many people already have a Google account for email, YouTube, and Google Photos; and (3) it’s completely free.

I think is free for most iOS and Android devices, but not for the iPad Pro. I guess that would be the deal breaker for right there. Plus the limitations on free disk space.


The new Google Photos app is quite cool

I’m enjoying the new Google Photos app. In addition to unlimited storage for photos and videos, it has lots of interesting features, including search of photos by recognition – you don’t need to add descriptions. For example, I searched for “birds” and up popped Mon and Monta.

There is an “assistant” which automatically creates collages, effects and “stories” for your approval.

The unlimited photos are if you agree to 16 MP per photo and 1080 HD for videos. Very reasonable. If you have demands for higher resolutions than that it will still work but eat into your Google account quota. But if these sizes are sufficient, backups don’t count towards your quota. What could be better? 16 MP image resolution is higher than I can shoot anyway.

There are features to save space on mobile devices, and sync works very well.

It works on the web, in iOS and on Android.

This might be my photo backup and sharing feature app of choice going forward. It’s certainly a better bargain than Apple iCloud Photos backup.

Here is an example of a “story” it automatically created and notified me about. I elected to save it, and so I can share it. Take a look! Make sure to click the right-arrows to the end of the story.

Notice how it even agreed with me that Hachioji is not near Tokyo. 🙂

And no Google+ is required! They have separated from that.

I recommend giving it a try, even if just for backup.


More speaker quality comparisons between the Nexus 7 (2013), iPhone 5 and iPad 2

Well, I wasted more time just now listening to the same track over and over again on my Nexus 7 and my iPhone 5, and even on my iPad 2: Linda Ronstadt’s “Sentimental Reasons”. She has a good, clear voice and a good range, so it’s easy to tell “which is best” – or so I thought. I’ve also been having a side-conversation with Chris, the developer of iSyncr and RocketPlayer for the Nexus 7, and have been testing RocketPlayer’s quality on the Nexus 7 as well.

Side-note: I feel sort of dumb spending so much time on this since (1) I am by no means an audiophile or music expert and (2) listening to music on any of my devices is not something I spend that much time doing. Usually I listen on my iMac at the end of the day, while relaxing with my java sparrows. Nevertheless…

Anyway, it’s just not clear to me anymore (no pun intended). I listened via the Google Play Music version that gets “pinned” on my Nexus 7 (wherever that file is – I have no idea, so can’t check the file size or bitrate info), RocketPlayer (the 256 bitrate AAC file I transferred directly to the Nexus with Android File Transfer) and on my iPhone 5 and iPad 2, via the standard iOS Music app.

It’s not obvious to me whether Google’s Play Music or RocketPlayer sounds best in this case on the Nexus 7. But I swear the sound is “clearer” and the dynamic range (the highs and lows of pitch) is “greater” coming out of the iPhone 5 speakers than the Nexus 7 speakers.

I went back and forth a dozen times at the same point in the song, and when I switch back to the iPhone 5 Ronstadt’s voice comes through clear as a bell, while it just doesn’t seem as clear, or full of dynamic range when it comes out of the Nexus 7 speakers, in either app. It’s maybe subjective, but if I had to choose one of the speakers I’d say the iPhone 5 sounds better between the two.

Meanwhile the iPad 2 blows them both away in quality. I honestly don’t see how anybody can say the Nexus 7 speakers sound better than the iPad 2’s speaker. There’s just no comparison, in my opinion.

Yet between the Nexus 7 and the iPhone 5, I’m no longer sure which is technically “better”. While the sound is undeniably “clearer” on the iPhone 5, I’m no longer sure the “quality is better.” The more I listen, the more I hear intangible defects in the speaker I wasn’t noticing before, such as “tinniness” problem I was complaining about on the Nexus 7.

I suspect that the iPhone 5 is maybe “covering up” the defect for novices like me with a larger volume and throwing in more bass, or something like that, by default.  But the iPad 2 is clearly better overall than either the Nexus 7 or the iPhone 5.

Still, if you’re not doing side-by-side comparisons like I was, probably any of the speakers will suffice for casual listening.

For getting the bottom of which speaker is actually better, it might be best to compare the same YouTube video of music on both devices using the Google YouTube player. Not sure anymore.