With one good notepad app for Android on my phone, you might think I'd stop looking. And you'd be right... for about a week. Catch is nice and all, but there's always room for improvement. Like syncing with Google Docs.

The simply-named Docs promises just that. But will it do everything else I need from a note keeper?

  • Text Entry: Poor.

    It's really hard to tell: you need to be connected to the Internet to create a new document, and between Samsung's crappy Galaxy S phone and AT&T's crappy network, you're likely not to have a 3G connection. I had to reboot my phone to get it to find 3G.

    That's right, you need to be connected to use Docs. Since I do a lot of work from classrooms, cubicles, and other deep innards of concrete and metal buildings, I can't use Docs for a lot of what I do. That alone kicks it out of the competition.

    But, for the sake of completeness, let's continue anyway. Because you're downloading the latest version of any note, it takes forever for the note screen to show up. Text editing is clunky, even with a Swype keyboard. I get the feeling it's using Javascript to interpret my input while I type. Speaking of which, the big "Warning: You are using an unsupported browser" message at the top of the screen doesn't fill me with confidence, either.

    While Docs uses a custom widget that doesn't have the Android long-text scrolling bug, it's got plenty of its own. The keyboard covers up the cursor when you try to edit at the bottom of a long note, and scrolling bounces the cursor around. I was really getting some weird behavior.

    Sorry, but between the text-entry bugs and the clunkiness, I have to rate text entry "Poor". There's a first.

  • Data Synchronization: Poor.

    Docs is an actual Google product, so perhaps it's unsurprising that it synchronizes with Google Docs. As that's my preferred repository, I'm happy.

    Docs solves the "concurrent modification" problem by always being connected. If you try to edit a document, it connects to Google, gets the latest copy, and edits that. AS YOU TYPE, it sends the changes to Google. You really can't make changes in two places at once.

    Of course, the drawback is: when you're offline, you can't make changes at all. The second drawback is: lots of network connection and data transfer. The third drawback is: slow, clunky text editing. (Wait, I'd better come in again.) :D

    You'd think that would make document synchronization good, but no. Make a note on the phone with the same title as a note on the web. Something weird happens, and although the web sees both notes, the phone only sees one. Go figure.

    Lost note + constant network connection = poor data synchronization.

  • Search Integration: Poor.

    Oh, this is just ironic. Google is the king of search engines, but their own note program can't do a decent search on their own operating system.

    To be fair, after you turn on the "Search Docs", it will search the titles of your documents. But it doesn't search the contents of your documents or your spreadsheets. Docs gets one step up from "Fail" for effort: at least it's got search integration, even if it stinks.

  • Import/Export: Good.

    Strictly speaking, Docs has no import capabilities. However, like Catch, there is a web interface with lots of options.

    Google Docs will let you import several different formats, and download your documents in a lot of different ways, too. So many it's hard for me to list them all here.

    The only problem is that importing doesn't always work. Even if you stay within their size limits. I spent more than an hour trying to upload the CSV file of all my old Palm notes. You'd think it wouldn't be this hard.

    Of course, it's nice that Google supports open standards, like OpenOffice's Open Document, RTF, and CSV. If only it was a little more reliable...

  • Data Hierarchy: Missing.

    Docs doesn't have a data hierarchy. Your notes are arranged by title or by modification date.

    Well, that's not technically true. You can "star" a document, which gives you a hierarchy of 2 groups: all documents, and documents with stars.

    And you can access "Collections", but you can only move documents into collections online. So Docs itself doesn't have a data hierarchy.

  • Data Integration: Missing.

    Docs didn't turn my "programmer format" dates into phone numbers, but then again, it didn't turn anything into phone numbers. Nor did it recognize web URLs. There's no preference for it, so I can only assume Docs doesn't do data integration.

  • App Integration: Missing.

    Like most other Android apps (Catch being the only exception so far), you can't find any other Android apps that will interoperate with Docs.

Wow, was I ever hoping for something better from the Google team. Although it will allow you to edit a spreadsheet, Docs is just about useless for any serious PIM use. The requirement to have an active Internet connection, the slow start-up, the clunky editing, the useless search integration... unless you really need to edit your Google Docs documents on your phone, skip Docs. I have to rate Docs "Poor".