The best apps for Collaborative online file sharing and document editing

The best apps for Collaborative online file sharing and document editing

App Cafe Details

Apps reviewed:

  • Google Docs and Google Drive
  • Word Online and OneDrive

What are the benefits of using such apps?

  • Access, edit, share, store & sync your files across all devices.
  • Collaborate and co-create content with other people, even editing the same document together in real time.

Problems these apps can help address:

  • You’re unsure what is the official UN cloud-storage solution
  • You want to be able to create and edit documents, then access them online from anywhere.
  • You want to jointly collaborate on and create online shared documents with others. Even tracking who did what if need be.
  • You’re sick of using transferable media devices such as USB sticks to transport documents around.
  • You keep running into problems of “Who has the latest version of this file?” or “Where did we save that?” as you pass files back and forth among team members.
  • You’re having trouble sending large files via email.

Guides, tutorials, tips, hints and reviews

Below is a quick run-down of the features and benefits of the apps that were explored during the App Cafe.

Please see related links further below to in-depth explanations of app features, screenshots, videos, reviews, pros and cons and more.


Google Docs

  • Available on the web via any browser
  • Download as an app on Android, or iOS.
  • Extensions available on both Chrome and Firefox
  • Google Docs is free!

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs allows you to create and edit web-based documents using a web-browser (or app on relevant devices). All documents are stored online within your Google Drive so that you can access them from any possible device.

Google Docs Pros

  • It’s straight forward and easy to use. As the interface is so similar to Word, you’ll find that you’re quite at home. You’ll soon be navigating around and creating professional looking documents easily.
  • It’s extremely flexible. It’s “platform agnostic” meaning that anyone with a web browser and the internet can access and use it 24/7, anywhere on any device. Accessibility like this can take your productivity to the next level.
  • This flexibility also extends to file types. If you need to import a file or export something out of Google Docs, you won’t run into error messages or compatibility issues. Google Docs imports and exports most file types, giving you flexibility when sending and receiving files from colleagues.
  • Your documents are saved automatically and are always backed up, meaning there’s no need worry about losing work, or any issues with other colleagues not correctly saving their work.
  • Multiple users can access and edit the same document at the same time. It even allows users to see who else is in the document and what changes they’re making to it as they work.
  • Google Docs allows you to add and remove collaborators meaning you can control exactly who can make changes to the document. You can also control the version of any document that you’re jointly working on and review all changes.
  • The Explore feature is excellent….
  • It’s free! Yes, completely free!

Google Docs Cons

  • While Google Docs is likely to be very secure, the bottom line is that you’re storing data on a remote server using a web‑based service. So with that in mind, don’t use Google Docs for anything containing sensitive information, or that could contain personal identifiable information, such as of students. If in doubt, check with Phil Oakman on Ex. 2823.
  • It doesn’t support all of the advanced features that you might find in Microsoft Word. Although Add-ons are growing in number all the time.
  • The tool is really not suited for high-quality print output. Rather its strength lies in facilitating collaboration which makes it perfect for informal documents, but a poor choice for desktop publishing or technical documentation.
  • Since the tool is web‑based, this means that you must be online to access your data 
    (though you can download and make your documents available offline after you get internet access).
  • The service requires you to create and use a free Google account which although not that cumbersome, it’s another process to navigate and adds yet another email account to keep track of. It’s also down to you whether you want to have just one Google account, or perhaps two (one for work and one for personal). This further adds another layer of complexity.

What do you think about when best to use Evernote, plus pros and cons? Please comment on this post below.

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About Jim

Staff trainer and e-learning developer working for the University of Northampton, UK. All views my own, aside from those shamelessly taken from others.

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