Google Drive For Android Gets Card UI, OCR, Selective Offline Sync & More

Google Drive is one of the services that didn’t make it to the headlines at Google I/O a few days back, and no noteworthy update to the service was expected either. What we do have now, is an update for the Google Drive Android app, a massive one. There are new features, a new interface, and bug fixes. When you update the app, the first thing you will notice is he interface that is now cleaner and easier to scroll, gives you a grid like view, and follows the card-based UI that users love from Google Now. Feature wise, the app can now connect with your camera to snap documents, and convert them to searchable PDF files using OCR. File editors now allow you to view a file’s properties, fonts & cell highlights can be edited for spreadsheets, and files can be made available offline.

Once you’ve updated the app, the interface will be the first and most obvious change you will notice. You can tap the little ‘i’ button to view file properties. From there, you can also set the file to be viewable offline.

google drive interfece file properties

When viewing excel sheets, you can now change the font (type and size) and the cell highlight color. From any file editor, you can view file properties as well; just open the options menu and tap ‘Properties’.

excell file properies editor


A new ‘scan’ options has been added to the add file menu with this update. This option lets you take pictures with your camera and provided the images contain legible text, it uses OCR to convert them into PDFs with searchable text.

new scan scan

The quality of the scan will depend on the condition of whatever it is you’re scanning, and also on the amount of light in the room when scanning. The files are converted to PDF automatically. For some reason, the app scanned receipts upside down in our testing. This might just be specific to the device used to test the app, and can easily be fixed by turning the document upside down.

The update may not have been announced ceremoniously, but it’s definitely a big one. The file editors are getting smarter and perhaps we will soon be able to take pictures directly from within the Google Drive app and save it as part of the document itself. For now, the Scan option will let you take a picture of just about anything, but it’s always saved as a PDF. Other updates include file previews within the app, and some bug fixes. One small caveat with the update and its new features is that files can be downloaded for offline viewing in Android Honeycomb or higher only.

Download Google Drive For Android

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  • Mark

    Thanks for the update !
    It sure triggered me in getting Google Drive for my phone.
    By the way, Honeycomb… that’s Android 3.2…. Hardly a hurdle. ;-)