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Why the iPad and Google Apps for Education are a bad mix.

For an individual, classroom or school looking for a device to get the most out of Google Apps for Education and use it in a manner that makes it a productive option for teachers and students save yourself the time in considering the iPad.  You will be disappointed in the experience you are offered from Google.

You will  discover that Google does have apps such as Docs, Drive, Sheets and Slides specifically designed for the iPad and you should rightly have some expectation that these apps would be of reasonable quality and functionality.  

You should expect this.  And you will be highly disappointed when you use them, as they offer students little more capacity to be creative and innovative than a simple text editor.

We know that the iPad is a capable device in this space which has been proven by Apple's own products in Numbers, Pages and Keynote.  Earlier this year Microsoft rolled out a highly impressive version of Office for iPad that does a more than ample job of replicating it's desktop cousin.

Both of these products offer the ability to create visually appealing documents that students would be proud to take ownership of.  They are rich in in features, media integration and functionality.

To give you a comparison of Google's most recent release - Google Slides on the iPad you cannot even select or create a theme beyond a blank white background, insert a picture or media of any type into a presentation.  The only features on offer to you are simply the ability to change font size and style.

Wouldn't your students be stoked to create a presentation on their iPad that contains absolutely nothing but text?  I don't think so.

This lack of functionality is repeated across docs and sheets and will equally disappoint users.

So what is the benefit and purpose you might ask?  Unlike Apple and Microsoft's offerings Google do allow for collaborative creation of content.  But from my experience of working with students on the iPad in these apps they don't find much fun in collaborating on documents that can be little more creative than a text file.

The ability to collaborate is also extremely half baked compared to what is available through a web browser.

So your next question might be "Why don't we just use the safari or even better chrome app to use Google Apps and forget the first option?"

In simple terms this even worse.  by the time you switch between mobile and desktop views repeatedly, receive numerous warnings that your browsers are incompatible with Google Apps and have regular crashes you will answer your own question in minutes.

So the one saving grace for Google Apps on the iPad is the Google Drive App itself which lets you import documents created in far better iPad apps such as Keynote and Office into a shared space or folder.  But don't get too excited as essentially this only a repository to store content, you wont be able to edit or enhance these documents without creating multiple versions of them.

The shame about all of this is that the iPad  is a capable device for productivity for teachers and students.  We've seen this evidenced in Evernote, Office, dropbox, Cloudon and Apple's own software as well as a number of other Apps from third party developers.  All of which do a far superior job to Google's offerings.

The bigger question here is why do the worlds largest technology company in Google consciously choose to deliver such a terrible product to the world most popular student device in the iPad?  

Surely, the unspoken answer to this would be to explore Google's own cheaper and fully functional Chrome book as the solution to the problem. 

In fact it would be ideal if the next upgrade to all Google's iPad offerings simply loaded to a screen that said "if you wish to use Google Apps on an iPad you are dreaming - Go and buy a Chromebook instead."

At least this would allow users an honest appraisal of the situation and let them make alternate choices about which is a bigger deal breaker for them.  No iPads or no Google Apps for Education.  

Currently these two options are like oil and water, and after much promise from Google that this would be addressed and improved they still don't mix.