More and more things are moving into the Cloud, or online; not just storage, but applications as well. Google Docs is a very popular and free online alternative to installed office and productivity software such as Microsoft Office. But can you connect to Google Docs from your Windows Phone device? The answer is "Yes". In this article I will present you with four solutions to connect to Google Docs from your Windows Phone. However, it's not yet possible to create or edit your Google Docs from a mobile device; you can only view and download those documents.
Your Mobile Browser
One of the most readily available and free means of connecting to Google Docs from your Windows Phone device is through your mobile browser. It doesn't require the installation of any third-party application or gateway client, and Internet Explorer Mobile is already part of Windows Phone 7.5.
Start your mobile browser and enter "http://docs.google.com" into the address bar.
You will have to log into your Google account with your Google email and password. This is necessary even if your Windows Phone device is already able to log into your Google account. If you are using Google’s 2 step verification process, then don’t forget to generate a new password specific to this connection. Details can be found here: Windows 8 Apps Don’t Connect to Your Google/Gmail Account?.
Once logged in, you will be on the Google Docs screen. You can tap on any of the docs to view them.
You can now read the selected document on your Windows Phone device. But, as previously stated, you cannot edit the document. Nor can you create a new document from the device.
Nor can you upload an existing document from your Windows Phone device.
If you select a document, then Tap & Hold, a drop-down menu will appear, allowing you to Share the document, Rename it, Download it, etc. just as you can when using a desktop browser.
Documents can be shared by email collaboration, the same as with a desktop browser, or you can email a link via the various messaging options on your Windows Phone device.
If you wish to download the document, you're given the option of formats in which to download. The default is Microsoft Word, but if you tap the drop down arrow, you're given multiple choices of download format.
Here you can see the format choices you're presented with.
If you download the document in Microsoft Word, Plain Text, or Rich Text, it will open in Office Mobile. You can then make changes to the document and save it on your device, or upload it to Skydrive; but you cannot upload the edited document to Google Docs.
If you download the document in PDF format and have Adobe Reader installed on your device, it will open in Adobe Reader. There is no application for an Open Document format, so it will not be readable. And when I tried to open it in HTML, it would not open in the browser.
There are several advantages to using your mobile browser to connect to Google Docs from your Windows Phone device... There's already a mobile browser installed, you can share documents the same as if you were using your desktop, and you can download documents in formats usable by Office Mobile.
GDocs is a free productivity app for viewing and downloading Google documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and forms. You will have to enter your Google email address and password, but once done, they are stored within the app so you can automatically connect to Google Docs each time run Gdocs.
Once logged in, you have access to your Google Docs and view them merely by tapping the desired document.
The document is now viewable on your Windows Phone device.
Just by opening a document, Gdocs automatically downloads it to your device. You then have the document available at any time and can view it at your leisure.
Gdocs gives you the advantage of saving your login information and allowing you to download any of your Google Docs directly to your device.
Easy File Hub 2
Easy File Hub 2 is a paid productivity app that lets you login to Google Docs and view your documents. In addition, it provides access to more than just Google Docs. For this article we used the trial version of Easy File Hub 2. As you can see from the image below, you can also access Dropbox, Skydrive, Picasa, local servers, and other. As this article deals with Google Docs, you can tap the Google Docs tile to log in your account.
As with the other methods, you will have to enter your Google email and password. The login information was not stored on the device, so we had to enter the login information each time. Once done, you're Google Docs will be viewable. Tap on the desired document to view it.
You can now view the document on your Windows Phone device.
Tapping and holding on a document opens a drop-down menu, but as you can see, there's nothing in the drop-down menu. I don't know if this is a limitation of the trial version, or if Easy File Hub 2 is simply not capable of any action other than viewing Google documents.
You can tap the three dots in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to bring up the menu and logout of Google Docs.
Whenever using a demo or trial version of a paid app, we like to know what, if any, limitations the trial has. In this regard, I contacted the developers of Easy File Hub 2, but after a month, still have not had any response. Even though it's only 99-cents, users are still putting money on the line, and I've received better support from developers of free apps. Product support is very important, and since the developers of Easy File Hub 2 have failed to respond, it is not an app I would recommend.
Socialwok No Longer Works
Socialwok was a free productivity app designed to share messages, files, and Google Docs. However, the company that created Socialwok is no longer in business. As such, the gateway client it used to connect to Google no longer exists. Therefore, Socialwok does not work. I'm only including it here because if you do a search for Google Docs on the Windows Phone marketplace, Socialwok is one of the apps that is returned.
Which is the Best Solution?
So which method of connecting to Google Docs from Windows Phone 7.5 is the best? That would depend entirely on your needs. If you only need to view the documents and have them available on your device, Gdocs is the quickest and simplest method. However, if you would like to be able to share your documents from your Windows Phone, be able to download in a format usable by Windows Phone 7.5, and be able to make changes to the document, then the best method would be to use your mobile browser.
But remember, no matter which method you choose, you cannot create, edit, or upload documents to Google Docs from your Windows Phone device.