When I called an old friend (Virgil Kirk) late this afternoon--I'd stayed late to catch up on emails--for advice on a hardware question, I had no idea he'd be answering a more profound one regarding iPads and GoogleDocs. As I've lamented quite often, most recently in this blog post, iPads and GoogleDocs/GoogleApps just don't play well together.
Simply, don't buy an iPad and expect it to work with GoogleApps well...UNLESS...you have Documents to Go Premium edition.
Documents to Go Premium ($16.99 per iPad) integration with GoogleDocs. After buying it (what is the iPad but a black hole for app purchases! haha), I thought it might be a possible alternative to buying iWorks for each iPad ($30 per iPad) and running OwnCloud.
Basic Math: If you were deploying 500 iPads, imagine the cost difference between iWorks Suite ($30) and Documents to Go Premium ($16.99). Let's see:
iWorks Suite at $30 per iPad adds up to $15,000
Documents to Go Premium at $16.99 per iPad is $8495
The difference? $6,505.
The short version? Documents to Go Premium works great with GoogleDocs, as well as cloud storage like Dropbox, Box.net, and SugarSync but NOT WebDav (or OwnCloud WebDav). What's the fly in the ointment? It's intended for a single-user and stores files locally on the iPad as well as in the cloud. That means that you better not be using the "institutional model"--where iPads are on a cart--but instead letting students "own" the apps or some variant of that where the individual iPad is checked-out to a student for the long-term.
Documents to Go Premium enables you to "view, edit, create, manage and synchronize MS Word, Excel and PPT files and attachments on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. In addition, you can view Adobe PDF, Apple iWork, and other files/attachments."
I'm trying it now and it's working smooth...some quick observations:
- It lets you save files locally on the iPad...sheesh, isn't that a dream?
- Let's you edit files on device or your computer, merging changes/differences between documents. I was shocked at how quickly it connected to my MacAir at work.
- Let's you work with files from Cloud service/online storage account
- Cloud storage devices supported include:
- iDisk (didn't try this)
- Public iDisk
- Does not support webdav or OwnCloud
It works as advertised WAY better than anything else I've tried, and allows formatting, etc. Yes, that means you can REALLY take advantage of formatting (bold, italics, etc.) using Documents To Go Premium. You can even get files off your computer. It's the perfect solution if one were giving every child their own iPad to use. It's a must-have for GoogleDocs integration for staff.
Still, due to the way we are deploying iPads, there are some problems:
- It's intended for a single-user. That means, all the students work would be together (not good)
- It DOES NOT allow one to interact with an OwnCloud server via WebDav.
Other than that, it's pretty sweet! I wish I hadn't spent the money ($10) on Pages (Keynote is still better than PPT, but most folks probably wouldn't care).