I'm sure this one's been in the back of Google's mind for awhile now, and two weeks ago, it become a reality. Splattered across Google's multiple blogs was the announcement that Google Docs were now editable on mobile devices such as the iPad, iPod Touch, and Android 2.2 devices. Since I would much rather use a large screen to do any meaningful document editing, I'll offer a brief review of how the iPad experience compares to the standard browser, as we see how the Google engineers did, as well as whether the mobile experience will be a pleasant one.
It should be noted that this feature set is brand new, and I'm confident that Google will only work to improve the experience. That being said, here are the results of my Google Doc mobile experience on the iPad:
Creating a new Google Doc
Clicking on the pencil/paper icon in the upper right of your iPad docs homepage, and you'll be prompted to create a new spreadsheet or document. After giving the item a title, you can start typing right or entering data into cells right away. I was pleased to find that the experience supports both portrait and landscape mode, so a longer typing experience is probably better served by the larger keyboard found on the sideways orientation. What's noticeably missing is the standard toolbar (or any toolbar for that matter). Thus, it's standard text and that's it. No bold, underline, italics, formatting, nothing. In fact, the only buttons available on the screen are refresh, help, sign out, and an option to use the desktop version (which was not supported on the iPad when I tested). Remember what I said about this being the beginning for Google.
Editing an existing Google Doc
For documents or spreadsheets that you've already created, Google Docs offers limited editing options on the iPad. Clicking on the edit button in the upper right (if available, more on that below) gives you the ability to add, change, or delete text from the document. One cool feature was that the changes are made in near real time, similar to what users experience (and love) on desktop computers. The iPad seems to automatically refresh and changes are immediately reflected. The same feature set applies to spreadsheets, though I did not observe the near real time editing capabilities, but instead had to click on "refresh" to see if and when changes are made.