The facts are undeniable. More and more lawyers – whether virtual or traditional – utilize Google to perform their work. For many lawyers, Google is no longer just a tool to search the Internet; lawyers are increasingly relying on Google’s many products as part of their daily practice.
Despite what I wrote in my last piece about Google Chrome‘s shortcomings, I am, basically, one of those lawyers. I am a dyed-in-the-wool, Google kinda guy. Sure, I was miffed over the whole “Buzz thing,” as were countless others. But, come on, rough patches are to be expected in any long-term relationship, right? Right. The reality is that I can scarcely imagine a workday without using “the Google” (as it is referred to in my office).
Because of my daily interaction with Google, I often find myself wondering why the company dumps perfectly decent products (e.g., the Google Notebook) while seeming to ignore other products’ need for a makeover. One such product, in my opinion, is Google Docs, which I have always found cumbersome and lacking in features, certainly when compared to Word, Open Office or Wordperfect.
This week, however, Google rolled out a completely overhauled Google Docs, making good on industry predictions that the company intends to compete directly with Word, et al. I have only just started to test some of the new features of the revamped Google Docs, but I can already report that Google has made some excellent changes to the product.
One new feature that will be of particular interest to lawyers is an improved import/export feature. In the past, documents that were, say, in Microsoft Word did not work well if imported into Google Docs. With the new version, however, this feature has been greatly improved, allowing for the importing of Word 2007 (“.docx”) files. Google Docs continues to support the use of Open Office files as well. However, Google Docs did not support my use of a Wordperfect file when I tested it, but welcome any readers comments if you have had a different experience. If Wordperfect is not supported by the new version of Google Docs, that incompatibility may be the final nail in the coffin for Corel‘s word processing software insofar as lawyers are concerned.
Another new feature is the ease by which images can be inserted into documents and edited. Forms have also been made much more user-friendly.
As one article from Softpedia.com noted, a feature of the new Google Docs which is not being touted by Google is an improved spell checker. Perhaps, Google is not focusing as much attention on this feature because it is such a commonplace feature in other word processing platforms. Nevertheless, for lawyers, having a good spell checker is an essential part of any word processing. Having it in Google Docs is a welcome change.
Finally, Google Docs’ collaboration feature now permits real-time sharing and editing of documents with your work group. This should make Google Docs function well with Google Wave.
All in all, the revamped Google Docs looks great. Whether it is ready to compete yet with Word is an entirely different matter. Nevertheless, I recommend checking out Google Docs, and please let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Google. I did not receive anything of value from Google, or any person or company affiliated with Google, for writing this review of Google Docs, and do not anticipate receiving any.