The Best Business App for Android Isn’t An App

It got off to a slow start, but Android is gaining appeal among business users. That isn’t to say there aren’t any issues. There are many. Still, an evolving platform allows Google and its developers to overcome these issues. Even now businesses can benefit by using Android devices.

In the past year we’ve seen plenty of business-focused apps hit the market. This will make the platform more appealing to corporate users. Personal organization apps, such as PocketInformant, help keep people organized. You Keep Your Money tracks expenses. Yet these don’t cover the most important business app of all: the office suite. The ability to create and edit documents and spreadsheets remains a top priority for a business handset. What does Android offer in that regard?

Documents To Go has always been a popular documents platform, but there’s a hitch with that. No, it’s not the $30 price tag. It’s that it was recently purchased by Research In Motion. That means, at the very least, that the company’s efforts will focus on BlackBerry. Will they even continue developing the Android versions? Indications are yes, but I’m not sure it will get the attention it deserves. Thankfully, Android has an ace in the hole, an in-house documents solution that can trump Docs To Go.

Not long ago Google announced that users could edit their Google Docs items right from their Android devices. This is a major step forward for the platform. It’s still not an ideal solution — you’re still using your web browser rather than a full-fledged app — but it’s a signal that we’re going to see bigger and better things with Google Docs on Android. And why not? It’s Google’s platform, and it’s Google’s document services. Once they get the full suite running at full capacity on Android, it could be a much more attractive destination for business users.

With full Exchange support, plus a full suite of office apps, Google should be able to make some headway into enterprise. Once it does that, I imagine that we’ll see even more business-focused apps in the Market. Which will in turn make the platform even more appealing for businesses. Round and round it goes.

Photo by pittaya.

  • jake

    Umm no. Google Docs can’t be edited easily from iPad let alone a small Android phone screen. Totally a delusional article.

    • Dave

      Umm yes. As a Nexus One user, and someone that has Google Docs intergrated into their business and day-to-day lifestyle, I can happilly testify to the ease of editing GDocs on a “small Android phone screen”.

    • Small Android screen? :-/ Android X 4.3 inch screen 😀

  • B-Rose

    Using Google Docs on mobile has certainly improved, but really, Google needs to introduce a fully-integrated Google Docs app, capable of saving off-line (for all us New Yorkers who would be writing on the subway) and then syncing when back online. This has always seemed like a no-brainer to me, and it baffles me that we still don’t have this.

    • Gil

      Agreed. Google docs isn’t as responsive and offline-capable as Docs to Go. I was lucky to buy it at $10 earlier in and love it, particularly in combination with Dropbox.

  • RockinEvo

    Plus for Docs to Go, you can’t beat the functionality of the program and it syncs with your Google docs. I wasn’t lucky as Gil purchasing the app for 10 but did snag it for 14 and haven’t looked back.

  • Obs

    As a N1 owner I can certify the one thing I miss the most about BB is the ability to sync with Outlook everything: contacts, notes, calendar .. seems like HTC omitted N1 support in it’s sync app … I’m tired of manually uploading my contacts to Gail .. and double entering the calendar 🙁 no 3rd party app does it nearly as well as it’s done with Blackberry ……

    • Mac

      It’s no mistake that Google won’t sync with Outlook. They make a lot of money from GMail advertising, and the last thing they want to do is make it easy for Android owners to avoid GMail — even though GMail isn’t remotely in the same league as Outlook for business purposes. And no, I don’t mean Exchange — I run several businesses and the last thing I need is an amateurish-looking gmail address, and I personally find the GMail interface klunky, counter-intuitive, and annoying.

      I actually have written most of a multi-threaded automatic Outlook/GMail contact sync app — it reads and writes both contact lists and performs some rudimentary comparisons, but the sync process itself is very difficult as both systems have significant differences. And quite frankly I’m trying to get out of software as there is little that is more tedious than dealing with end-users.

      The bottom line is that it’s certainly doable, it took me perhaps a week to build this, and that includes dealing with Google’s awful developer documentation and platform version mismatches.

      Remember kiddies, Google’s “Do no evil” is just a marketing phrase.

      • Nige

        It should be remembered that there are many businesses (not even just their competitors) who simply will not want Google to be able to see their commercial data.

        And another, bigger, issue for Android is the platform is not trusted by probably most corporates. For as long as devices can pretend to be secure, most blue chip companies will be blocking them from their networks.