Proton just launched a privacy-focused alternative to Google Docs

Proton Docs looks a lot like Google Docs: white pages, formatting toolbar at the top, live indicators showing who’s in the doc with their name attached to a cursor, the whole deal. That’s not especially surprising, for a couple of reasons. First, Google Docs is hugely popular, and there are only so many ways to style a document editor anyway. Second, Proton Docs exists in large part to be all the things that are great about Google Docs — just without Google in the mix.

Docs is launching today inside of Proton Drive, as the latest app in Proton’s privacy-focused suite of work tools. The company that started as an email client now also includes a calendar, a file storage system, a password manager, and more. Adding Docs to the ecosystem makes sense for Proton as it tries to compete with Microsoft Office and Google Workspace and seemed to be clearly coming soon after Proton acquired Standard Notes in April. Standard Notes isn’t going away, though, Proton PR manager Will Moore tells me — it’s just that Docs is borrowing some features.

The first version of Proton Docs seems to have most of what you’d expect in a document editor: rich text options, real-time collaborative editing, and multimedia support. (If Proton can handle image embeds better than Google, it might have a hit on its hands just for that.) It’s web-only and desktop-optimized for now, though Moore tells me it’ll eventually come to other platforms. “Everything that Google’s got is on our roadmap,” he says.

Imagine Google Docs… there, that’s it. You know what Proton Docs looks like.
Image: Proton

Since this is a Proton product, security is everything: the company says every document, keystroke, and even cursor movement is end-to-end encrypted in real time. Proton has long promised to never sell or otherwise use your user data, which may appeal to more people than ever now that there are so many questions about how your documents and information are used to train AI models. (For what it’s worth, Google says it also doesn’t use your content to train its models.)

Proton is just one of the companies trying to offer privacy-focused alternatives to Google and Microsoft, and so far, none of them have made a dent in those companies’ dominance. But Proton’s products have improved a lot in the last few years, and it’s getting closer to offering all the things some users might need to switch. (One big thing missing? Spreadsheets. Good luck taking Excel down, Proton.)

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