Google is effecting a partial change of course of its established cloud strategy by releasing a native Google Docs app for its Android smartphone platform. Not only does it enable Google Apps users to create, upload and share documents from their phone, it also can turn a snapped photo of text into an editable document in the cloud. It's the first time Google has ever made any aspect of the Google Apps suite available client-side. The catch is that any actual editing is still done in the mobile browser-based interface.

According to the Google Enterprise Blog entry, the Google Docs app is supposed to make it easier to perform common tasks. Documents can be shared with anyone in your device's contact book, and it keeps a local copy of the list of your documents. A home screen widget provides easy access to creating documents, starred items, and that nifty photo-snapping feature I mentioned.

When I first saw this app go past, I had to resist the urge to gloat - back in December 2010, I publicly claimed that a native Google Docs app would be a slam dunk, since not everyone is online all the time. But reading into it, it seems to be held back by the insistence of the browser-based editor.

It's possible Google wants to avoid the reliance on legacy software and platform-specificity that was at the root of my concerns with Microsoft Office 365. But Google's proven it knows how to blend the two effectively with Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. So why not on its own mobile OS?

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