Want to see what all of the major Office apps for iPhone and iPod Touch offer without wasting money purchasing them all? Here’s our definitive guide to the best iOS Office apps, so you can learn before you buy.
iOS devices work great for viewing a variety of documents without any extra software, but if you want to create new documents or edit and share existing ones, you’ll need an Office app. There’s a number of popular Office apps in the App Store, and today we’re going to look at the features each app offers, compare how they each render documents, and help you see which one is the best fit for your needs and budget.
First, Do You Need an Office App?
First, though, you’ll need to decide if you actually need an office app. If you mainly use your iPhone or iPod Touch for personal use, then you may not need to view or edit documents and spreadsheets. If you sometimes need to view documents and give feedback without editing the files, iOS’ built in document viewer works great for looking at documents in email attachments and online. Just tap on a document or file in an email, and you’ll see a preview that renders documents almost perfectly. Rich documents may not display fully, but it should be close enough to work.
You can also easily view your online documents in Safari, as both Office Web Apps and Google Docs let you view your files with a mobile browser. Unfortunately, though, you cannot edit documents in either on your iPhone or iPod Touch.
So viewing documents isn’t a problem, but if you want more than this, you’re going to need an Office app. Let’s dig in and see what’s available.
What Office Apps are Available?
The Business and Productivity sections of the App Store list numerous apps to help you edit Office documents, spreadsheets, and more. Just from the descriptions, it’d be hard to know how each one works. To solve this problem, we’ve tested 3 of the most popular Office apps recently: Documents to Go, Quickoffice, and Office2. We’ll take a quick look at each one’s features here, but you can click their links to see the whole review.
Be sure to Read our full review of Office2 for iOS
Office2 fared the worst in our test. This app is popular because it only costs $5.99, but it struggled to render documents and spreadsheets in our tests. Worse still, it lost any formatting that it couldn’t support after saving edited documents. On the bright side, it supports a wide variety of online documents storage services and runs faster than competing apps.
Be sure and read our full review of Quickoffice for iOS
Quickoffice Mobile Connect suite is priced in the middle at $9.99, and it offers a lot of bang for your buck. It can edit advanced documents fairly good, and then saves formatting that it doesn’t support so your document will still look the same back on your PC. You can easily access all of your files from Dropbox, Google Docs, and more, then edit and save them online. Quickoffice spreadsheets struggled with .XLSX formatted spreadsheets, though, but otherwise handled modern rich Office files with ease.
We especially liked the innovative web interface that lets you browse and add documents to your iOS device from any nearby networked computer. And if you don’t need to access your documents from online storage services directly, you could get Quickoffice Mobile Suite for just $4.99. With the advanced document support and cheaper price, Quickoffice is a great option.
Documents To Go
Be sure and read our full review of Documents To Go for iOS
Documents To Go is the most expensive Office app we reviewed at $16.99, but it’s also constantly one of the most popular in the App Store. This app includes the best interface for editing documents, and even includes support for viewing advanced document components such as sidebars and images in documents. It lets you edit formatting more than any of the other apps and required fewer taps to accomplish the same tasks.
Documents To Go also includes some unique features such as searching among all of your online document sources and basic PowerPoint editing. The PowerPoint editing and creation options were very limited, though, so this one feature isn’t worth purchasing the app. If you don’t need PowerPoint editing and online document support, you can get Documents To Go Standard for just $9.99, which isn’t a bad choice if you need to edit rich documents directly on your device.
Which Office App is the Best?
The hardest part is deciding which app is the best for your needs. Documents To Go did support the most advanced Word document features, and was the most stable overall. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the most expensive. Quickoffice is a close second, and we actually liked the web interface for accessing your iPhone documents from your computer. Office2 was poor enough that we cannot recommend it for normal Office document usage, but both Documents To Go and Quickoffice were both good enough to easily recommend for normal usage.
Here’s a comparison of each app’s features:
So, in the end it comes down to what features you need. Need PowerPoint and online document support? Get Documents To Go Premium. Only need to edit documents locally on your device? Quickoffice Mobile Suite is a great option for you that’s not very expensive. You can’t go wrong with either of these apps, so pick the one that suites your budget and feature need best. In our opinion, Quickoffice Mobile Suite will be the best choice for most consumers.
Filling in the Office App Gaps
Microsoft Office today isn’t just for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, though. Outlook and OneNote are also popular Office apps that many don’t want to give up, so let’s look at some options for these.
OneNote isn’t available on iOS, but there is a great alternative app, MobileNoter that brings almost all of OneNote’s features to OneNote. You can sync your existing OneNote notebooks from your PC and edit them on the go, or add new notes and sync them online wherever you are. Check out our review of MobileNoter for more info.
The default Mail app works quite good for email on the go. It includes full Exchange ActiveSync support, so you should be able to access all of your personal and business email accounts from anywhere. The only problem is, the iPhone Mail app only lets you create plain text messages. If you need to send full HTML emails, you can try out MarkdownMail. This app lets you create richly formatted HTML emails on your iPhone using Markdown syntax.
After some initial disappointments with Office2, we were excited to see that both Quickoffice and Documents To Go offer great Office support on iOS. Editing rich documents is never perfectly easy on a small screen, but with an Office app, you’ll find you can do more business on the go than you ever found possible. Plus, in many cases, viewing a document and making changes later is a great option. What’s your favorite Office app, and how do you use Office tools on the go? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Did we miss an Office app for iOS that you love, or overlook a feature you need? Let us know in the comments, and if it’s something we can test, we’ll let you know! There’s no reason to spend $50 on apps just to find the perfect Office app for your needs, so we hope this info helps you make your choice and get the most bang for your app bucks.
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- Published 11/17/10