As the Google Drive and Google Apps for Education (GAfE) suites have matured, so have the available compatible apps across mobile platforms. This means you can do more on-the-go and using whatever device available than ever before. It also puts the power of GAfE in the hands of more people as they can be accessed on devices across many price points. And, of course, the apps are free.
It is important to note that not all ‘smart’ devices can access Google Apps effectively – read the post Does Google Apps for Education play nice with BYOD? for more on this. It also has ideas on how to breathe new life into old technology.
Also, the mobile apps tend not to have all the features of the browser based versions; this can be an advantage. Fewer features can sometimes mean greater productivity, particularly for people distracted by ‘bells and whistles’ like hundreds of fonts (yep, that’s me!). You can potentially use the desktop versions through the Chrome mobile browser but I have personally found this to be a frustrating experience.
Sometimes, the mobile versions liberate you to do things that are difficult on a desktop or laptop. Have a look at the post Create a comic in 3 minutes or less with Google Slides (with bonus puppies!) for one idea using Slides on an iPad.
Below is a quick reference table for many Google Apps across devices. It has already changed from when I first put it together as the mobile apps have improved. Some of the mobile apps are closer to their browser based counterparts than others. You will need to do more research to find out specifically what won’t work on the mobile apps. (I tried to find the definitive Google list but I was unable to).
The great thing is most apps retain their collaborative and commenting ability.
BYOD (bring your own device) is an emerging educational technology trend according to the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. BYOD initiatives open up a lot of opportunities and present some challenges. There are many reasons why a school would decide to implement a BYOD strategy and there is a considerable amount of work that is required to ensure the roll-out is successful. There is already a considerable amount of literature on BYOD best practice and case studies. Here I’ll specifically be looking at issues relating to BYOD and GAFE.
My school is yet to implement a BYOD initiative for students. Staff already utilise some of their own technology to supplement the technology made available by the school. I predict we will be looking at BYOD for students within the next 2 years. As a GAFE school, I like to experiment with different devices to see how well they work with the GAFE environment generally and Google Drive specifically. I find it works very well with:
- Windows computers with the latest of Chrome
- Linux computers with the latest version of Chrome
- Apple computers with the latest version of Chrome
- iOS devices (iPad/iPhone) with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
- Android devices with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
- Chromebooks (well, duh!)
Here are some stumbling blocks I have discovered with different devices (please let me know if you have a different experience with the below or have anything to add to the list):
- Microsoft Surface tablets with Windows RT cannot have Google Chrome or Drive apps installed. You can access Google Drive through Internet Explorer but it is unreliable and can behave strangely
- Microsoft Windows phones do not work with Google Drive. There are some third party apps but reviews indicate these are not productive
- Android and iOS devices that cannot be upgraded can only have the last compatible Google Drive app installed. This means with these devices, at best, you can only view files, not create or edit them.
- Google Chrome will be supported for Windows XP until the end of 2015. Do yourself a favour. If you are running a laptop with an old, unsupported version of Windows, download and install Linux Mint. I have installed it on older desktops and laptops and it has always worked beautifully with Google Chrome.
Should GAFE schools require students to have fully compatible technology? Not necessarily and it is not always realistic. There are no doubt many other issues that schools need to consider when looking at the possibility of implementing BYOD initiatives not least of all understanding what technology students can afford to provide. However, it is important to understand the limitations in order to plan accordingly.
A lot of us have discovered the awesomeness that is Google Apps. As the Googleverse evolves, more and more options are becoming available across different devices and operating systems. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to keep track of what you can do with which device.
This can be especially tricky when trying to manage a Google Apps for Education domain in a BYOD (bring your own device) environment. Which operating systems work best? And which are best avoided?
To help unravel the functionality and compatibility puzzle, I have put together a simple document. It shows the equivalent Microsoft Office applications and a grid showing the functionality across operating systems.
Click here to see the Google Apps Compatibility Across Operating Systems document.
I have been fortunate enough to have tried almost all the platforms and apps, excluding Mac OS. I would have to say the least Google friendly is Windows mobile/RT. I don’t know if that’s just my experience or consistent for everyone.
Recently I revitalised some old Windows laptops by replacing the OS with Linux Mint. What a pleasure Google Drive is to use in the Chrome browser! I highly recommend a Linux Mint install for old, tired Windows hardware.
Do you disagree with any of the information in my compatibility document? Then click on the ‘contact me’ link to the right of this post to let me know or post in the comments below (after all, Google is all about collaboration, right?)