Google’s Slides presentation app can now be used without an Internet connection on iOS devices, joining the two other core office productivity tools in the company’s suite, the Docs word processor and Sheets spreadsheet software.
With the move, announced Monday, Google also offers an alternative to Microsoft’s native Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for iPhones and iPads.
In addition, people can now also use Google’s productivity apps to open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files on iOS devices, a functionality that’s made possible by the integration of QuickOffice with the Google suite, which Google announced recently.
The new features, delivered via a new iOS Slides app and updates to the other two apps, apply both to the free, stand-alone Google Docs suite, and to Google Apps, which includes Google Docs and comes in free and fee-based editions.
The native Microsoft Office apps for iOS require a subscription to Office 365, which comes in many different editions that vary in price.
In Monday’s announcement, Google tried to drive home the point that its office productivity trio is a better, more convenient alternative to Microsoft’s suite.
“No one wants to worry about what format their documents are in or whether they have the right app on their phone or tablet. Whether you’re working on a file originally created in Microsoft Office, or one created in Docs, Sheets or Slides on an Android phone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromebook or laptop, with or without an internet connection, you can do all this and more with Google Apps,” wrote Google software engineer Li-Wei Lee in the blog post.
While Google jumped out ahead of Microsoft back in 2007 in cloud email and office productivity when it released Google Docs and later Google Apps, Microsoft has been making a ferocious comeback since the launch in mid-2011 of Office 365.
The most sophisticated versions of Office 365 include server products like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, as well as the Web-based, lightweight Office Online and the full-featured Office desktop suite, including not only Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but also other tools like OneNote, Access and Project.
The fee-based versions of Google Apps and Office 365 are licensed on a per-user subscription basis.
The companies are also competing very aggressively in the cloud storage and file share market for both consumers and enterprises with Microsoft OneDrive and OneDrive for Business and Google’s Drive, which are part of the companies’ respective collaboration and productivity suites.