Google Drive (for iPhone)

If you’re a Google Drive user, the Google Drive iPhone app (free) is certainly useful, but it’s not exactly the most convenient mobile app in its class. Like the Dropbox iPhone app, Box iPhone app, and OneDrive app, Google Drive for iPhone is a file browser that lets you see the documents you have stored in the cloud. You’ll need other apps to actually edit those files or create new ones, however. It brings a familiar interface for die-hard Google Drive users and gets the job done, but it’s not exactly a game-changer in the race to evolve mobile apps for file-syncing and storage.

From the Google Drive app, you can see details of your files, get links to share them, and mark them to be stored offline on your device. Despite those good, core functions, the Google Drive app could be better if it borrowed a few features from its competitors. It doesn’t have an automatic photo- or video-upload setting, as Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive do. It also doesn’t have the very handy feature found in Box that lets you add a comment on a file without opening it another app.

Google Drive On iPhone: Lay Of The Land

The Google Drive app is your portal into Google Drive. You can see entries for all your files, either in list view or as thumbnails, and you can upload new images and videos from your Camera Roll or by using the camera on the spot—but as I mentioned, there’s no automatic camera upload setting to back up your images. Perhaps that’s in part because Google wants you to put your photos into Google+, not Drive. The Google+ iPhone app does have an auto-upload setting for images. If you’re hunky-dory with Google nudging you to store photos on Google+ instead of Drive, then this missing feature may not matter to you.

You can use the app to preview non-Google Drive documents and images (but not edit them). Additionally, you can perform basic management tasks on all your files using the clear icons for delete, move, star, print, rename, get link, and the like.

A collapsible left menu lets you switch among accounts, should you use more than one Google ID, which is a nice touch. That left menu also houses buttons for quickly getting at starred documents, recent files, and items created by others and shared with you.

When you mark to save a file offline, the Google Drive app pops up a message letting you know you it’s going to make it available in one of the company’s other apps, such as Docs or Sheets, depending on the type of file. Because you can’t do very much at all with the file in Google Drive itself, Google nudges you to also download Docs, Sheets, and Slides (its apps for creating and editing word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations). If you haven’t caught on yet, Google does a lot of nudging.

The one other feature I wish Google Drive iPhone app had is the ability to add or read comments on any file. When I saw this feature in action in Box, I thought, “Wow. That’s extremely simple, yet amazingly convenient.” For those moments when you are trying to get work done quickly and efficiently from a tiny phone screen, having the ability to write and read comments is a game-changer. I wish all the file-syncing apps did it.

Are You Driven?

There’s nothing wrong the Google Drive app, but it’s not be the best file-syncing and storage app on mobile devices if you have to get critical work done quickly on your phone, or if you care deeply about automatically backing up photos and videos to your storage solution of choice. Dropbox is our Editors’ Choice for file-syncing iPhone apps, and Box is a very close second.

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