Google Drive and Google Apps vs Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 – revisited

I ran into an issue using Google Docs for my week class presentations.

First, the web interface is incredibly confusing and awkward to use. I’m forever being bounced into the Docs section when I just want to go back to the Google Drive itself and see the folder/file hierarchy. And I find it hard to figure out where I’m at in the Google Docs hierarchy.

So instead of doing this via the web, I tried using the Google Drive folder on my Mac (conceptually like DropBox) for organizing folder and files. It was then I ran into a weird – possibly showstopper – oddity.

Very often I will duplicate a Doc to use as a template for the next class presentation. Then I’ll move it into a new folder and rename it. I think that’s a pretty typical thing to do.

This works ok in Google Drive on the web (if you can stand all the tabs that open and not exactly knowing where you are at any given time).

But if you duplicate a Google Doc on your Mac in the finder (Command+D) it doesn’t create a separate file. It creates a shortcut to the original file!

It even warns you that if you move the shortcut that if you later delete the original file you’ll lose the contents.

That is incredibly clumsy I think. People want to duplicate and rename files all the time. Why should we have to go to the web and do it?

So I was back to OneDrive, which comes with 1TB of space with Office365. The same problem doesn’t exist with OneDrive. If you duplicate a file in the Mac Finder you get a whole separate file and can move it around and edit it without affecting the original file.

The downside of OneDrive compared to Google Drive seems to be that sync doesn’t appear instantly across devices.

With Google Drive, any time you edit a file on any of your devices – Mac, iPad, etc. – the changes magically appear on all the devices. It’s quite cool to watch.

But with OneDrive, on the Mac side, you have to close and reopen the file to see changes. And on the iPad and iPhone, I was just experimenting, and it seems you can pull-down to resync, which is “ok I guess,” but it doesn’t “magically resync” like with Google Docs.

I’m trying to decide which to go with going forward for class presentations.

Another advantage of Office365 with OneDrive is that on your Mac you have actual, real files instead of pointers to documents in the cloud only accessible via your browser, such as Chrome.

In other words, there are no true “Google Docs apps” for your computer. It’s all browser based. But for Office365 you get actual, real, native Word, Excel, etc. apps.

Come to think of it, that probably explains why, when you duplicate a Google Doc on your Mac, you end up with a shortcut instead of a real file. There is no “real file” there at all.

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

I found this article interesting and useful (https://www.cloudwards.net/dropbox-vs-google-drive-vs-onedrive).

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

 

Enjoying new iPad with keyboard case

Since I got my new iPad 5th generation in a trade-in with my carrier (traded in my old iPad Air, which itself was purchased used after selling my iPad 2 at an auction site) I find that I’ve been using it quite a lot. In fact, I’m using it to create this blog post.

Yesterday I brought just my iPad, and a tiny Bluetooth speaker for extra volume when playing songs for the class, to my weekly volunteer teaching at Hibikinokai. It worked great.

The Logicool keyboard case really makes a difference for productivity on the iPad, as opposed to mostly consuming media and checking email and Facebook.

The tablet features are great, and the keyboard just makes it easier to use for things like writing this blog post.

Some nice things about using the keyboard with the iPad include:

  • There is a special row of iOS keys, so you can easily go to the home screen, bring up your current open apps, do a search, switch languages, bring up the keyboard if you want to, control music, control speaker volume, lock the iPad and more.
  • You can use tab on the keyboard to go to the next field when filling out a form instead of tapping on the next field on the screen (which you can still do, of course – either way is fine).
  • Copy/pasting is easier because in addition to the “tap on screen” method you can use CMD+V on the keyboard. Similarly you can use CMD+L in Safari to go to the address field, CMD+A to select all text and CMD+Z to undo.
  • There is a cool Documents 6 app by Readle which essentially adds a Finder-like feature to the iPad. I understand a Finder-like feature will be standard in iOS 11 too. I used that for class by downloading some YouTube videos for class and keeping them local for playback.
  • The keyboard helps save space on the iPad screen, because when typing it’s not on-screen by default taking up screen space.

So it’s a convenient mix of keyboard and on-screen tapping tablet features.

The only problem I noticed is that when I go back to my MacBook Pro I find myself tapping on the screen now to do some things instead of moving the cursor and clicking!

Since this iPad is the wi-if plus cellular model, it’s also convenient outside. I even have a Terminal app running on it so I can connect to servers in case of a customer emergency.

Anyway, it’s quite fun. I think I’ve used my iPad this past week more than I have all my other iPads together over the past 5 years!

 

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iPad 5th generation keyboard case – what have I done?

I did something pretty stupid on Sunday. I needed a case for my new iPad 5th generation (not pro) and I was sort of interested in a keyboard case.

The new iPad doesn’t support the Apple Smart Keyboard. I knew there were several out there, including the Logicool Slim Folio made just for this iPad.

On Saturday, on the way back from Dave’s birthday party I went case hunting at Yodobashi Camera in Akibara. I almost bought a Sanwa soft back protector case (really all I need). But it seemed expensive at ¥2,800 just for that. Then I thought, well maybe I should have the Apple Smart Cover along with that. That’s like ¥4,400 yen. So the total seemed sort of boring and a waste.

But I had a Yodobashi gift coupon burning a hole in my wallet from when I got my iPhone 7 Plus in November and wanted to get something. I asked about keyboard cases for this iPad, and the salesman took me to that corner, but the ones for the iPad 5th generation hadn’t come out yet. So I decided not to get anything and went home.

On Sunday, during Hibikinokai lunch hour I went over to the Yodobashi Camera in Hachioji, right next door. The Logicool had just come out that day! I felt it and tried it and impulse purchased it.

Then an hour later I regretted it. It adds an extra 440 g to the 478 g iPad, almost doubling the weight. So it’s harder to hold in one hand and use as a tablet, which is what it is. Since I already have a notebook computer, I asked myself, “Self. Why did you do this?”

So I let myself stew about it for a day and then took it out of the box again a while ago, and I’ve been playing with it. I don’t know if I’ll use it all the time, but it is actually quite cool!

I’m tying this message on the iPad right now, at the same speed I would on my MBP. That in itself is cool.

There is also a whole row of keys at the top just made for iOS – jump to home, Siri, search, switch languages, bring up the keyboard, music controls, sound controls, lock the iPad and more. You can double-tap the home key to bring up the multi-tasking menu to switch back and forth between apps.

Also, unless you want to raise the iPad onscreen keyboard, it replaces it by default, so you save a lot of screen space that would otherwise be devoted to the keyboard.

There are extra Mac-like editing keys, like up-down, left-right arrows. I guess because this one is sold in Japan, Option-Y even switches to the ¥ sign, even when in English mode. Because of these extra keys, editing is much easier than just in tablet mode.

Technologically speaking, it is rather cool. And since I got the wi-fi plus cellular model iPad it’s like having a truly portable computer with you with an overall weight half that of my MBP.

And of course you can use the tablet on-screen features to tap and do all the normal things you do.

The keyboard comes with some small coin-sized batteries that are supposed to last 4 year before needing changing. And the Bluetooth connectivity was trivially easy.

So I’m somewhat won over by it. I might not use it all the time, but I’m tempted to try bringing it, instead of my MBP, to the next Hibikinokai meeting and doing my lectures from it.

The photo shows my MBP on the left and my iPad 5th Generation with keyboard case on the right.