Google Docs Makes Major Updates That Could Potentially Replace Microsoft Office 365

Bill Gates soaked ice bucket challengeScreenshotMicrosoft founder Bill Gates.

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides made major updates to its iPhone and iPad apps Monday that could potentially replace Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription service.

With today’s updates, Google’s Slides app (Google’s answer to PowerPoint) is available as a separate app for devices running on the iOS platform. Until now, it was only accessible through the Google Drive on iOS. Google Drive is Google’s online file storage tool.

Google Docs and Sheets (Google’s answer to Word and Excel, respectively) already had standalone apps on the iOS, but they can now open, create, and edit native Microsoft Office files on any iOS device. Before these updates, you couldn’t directly create or edit Microsoft Office files through Google Docs or Sheets on devices like the iPhone or iPad.

These are all part of the updates that were announced in June, when Google made the same updates to all Android devices first.

Google wrote on its official Enterprise Blog today:

Now you can use the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps on your iPad or iPhone and all other devices (your Chromebook, laptop, Android phone or tablet), to complete the same tasks — online or offline. In addition, you can open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files with the Google Docs suite on iOS.

Today’s updates could become a major threat to Microsoft’s Office 365 service, which requires a paid subscription. Although not as polished as Microsoft’s product, Google Apps can now run some of the basic and most frequently used functions that are available on Office 365 — all for free.

Google pointed out nearly 80% of Office licenses are “only lightly used,” and most employees use Office only “for a handful of minutes a day or not at all.”

If true, that means most employees don’t feel the need for the full functionalities of the Office 365, and wouldn’t feel much of a difference by using the slightly-less sophisticated Google Apps products.

However, Microsoft’s Office 365 business is doing pretty well. It has 5.6 million subscribers, and 1 million of those were added last quarter alone.

Google still has a long way to go. According to VentureBeat, Google Docs is #7 among productivity apps in the U.S. on iOS, while Microsoft Word for iPad is #1 among productivity apps and #13 overall.

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