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 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.