Yesterday a new client sent me several documents to help set me up as a vendor in its system, including a non-disclosure agreement and a W9 form. I printed the documents, filled them out, signed them, scanned them using my multifunction printer, attached the PDFs to an email, and sent them on their way.
The Google Drive Android app now includes a scan feature, and it works extremely well. You just click the “+” sign in the top-right corner of the app screen, choose “Scan,” and aim your Android device’s camera at a document. The app snaps an image, uploads it as a PDF to your Google Drive storage and applies optical-character recognition. The scanned document is then immediately searchable on your computer or Android device.
Once the new file is in your Google Drive account, you can download it to your Android or computer. The process doesn’t save me tons of time, but it is faster than using the HP Scan utility I use my Mac to scan documents.
Some other cool additions to the app: A new grid view displays thumbnails of images, spreadsheets, PDFs and other files, so you can easily swipe through them. The spreadsheet editor now lets you change fonts, colors and cell alignment. You can also now print files from Google Drive to Google-Cloud-Print-compatible printers.
A few things need work, though. Newly uploaded files aren’t automatically available in the Google Drive app; most of the time, I had to hit the refresh button to see them. Also, you need third-party apps to open documents stored on your Android in Google Drive. In comparison, Google Drive on a computer launches the appropriate Google app, such as Google Docs, when you click to open a file. Also, Google hasn’t said when the new Android features will be available in the Google Drive iOS app.
Google Drive on Android is, however, worth a download if for no other reason than it’s a convenient document scanner.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.