When it comes to doing some work on the move, the iPad has pretty much got you covered. There are so many different productivity apps out there on the App Store and the sheer range of stuff you can achieve using one is quite mesmerising. Regarding iPad office suites, there are a couple of choices out there, including Apple’s popular iWork suite (with Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and there’s chatter that Microsoft is going to release Office for iPad sometime towards the end of the year.
Today we are going to have a look at QuickOffice’s offering (which was recently acquired by Google, presumably to bring some of its features into its own cloud-based Google Docs service), known as QuickOffice Pro HD. Its website promises it to be the “FIRST and ONLY full-featured Microsoft Office productivity suite for iPad,” so I managed to grab a promotional code from the app’s developers for the purposes of a thorough test drive. Let’s see how it got on.
Unlike iWork for iPad, which is considered by many to be the de facto office suite for the iPad, QuickOffice Pro HD allows you to edit Microsoft Office documents in their native format. This is unlike iWork, which has to convert them into its own file format before they can be edited, so with QuickOffice Pro HD you can rest assured that no formatting or certain features of the document will be lost during conversion.
On first opening up QuickOffice, you are greeted with the app’s file explorer with a couple of sample files in there to play around with. I was slightly disappointed that the HD in the app’s name didn’t extend to Retina display support (simply iPad optimisation) and the icons did look a little pixelated on the high-resolution display. This was made up for by the wealth of cloud services supported by the app (eight in total, including Google Docs, Dropbox, box and Evernote), far more than I have seen in other programs.
One of the nicer features about the file manager is the ability to be able to drag files around, just like you would on a desktop. You can move them into different folders or delete, e-mail them or share them easily by dragging them onto the respective icons (see the screenshot below).
Sharing and More
QuickOffice integrates with your iPad’s native e-mail client and can share documents to a wide range of services, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Scribd (among others). Another great little touch is the ability to connect to your iPad wirelessly via your browser (the IP address shows up in the bottom toolbar — your computer and iPad must be on the same wireless network) where you can download, browse and upload files directly from your computer.
Working With Documents
QuickOffice can create and read presentations, spreadsheets and documents in all Office formats from 97 to 2010, and features three separate mini applications for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The app is designed for basic editing only — it certainly won’t replace Microsoft Office on your desktop nor (to my disappointment) is it as flexible and feature-rich as iWork. However, the interface is nice, simple and relatively uncluttered which always scores points with me; I keep getting sore eyes over cluttered and messy interfaces.
The word processor has a very basic set of tools and functions and there are (unlike iWork) no built-in templates to get you going (unless you download some then sync them with QuickOffice). You can change the font (there are 12 built-in) and its colour and some basic paragraph settings, such as text alignment, bullets, numbered lists and so on. Typing is a slightly painful experience and although QuickOffice integrates with your iPad’s built-in spell checker, it lagged slightly whilst I was testing it, which did get slightly annoying after a while. As well as this, you’ve also got a Find and Replace tool, plus a word count function.
The spreadsheet program does offer slightly more functionality, however it’s still limited to some fairly basic features. Apart from basic editing (such as fonts, alignment and so on), you can add in formulas from the built-in database (including many common to Excel) as well as add columns and rows. One thing that I was most disappointed about is no support for adding charts, which really does let it down.
The presentation program, again, is limited to some fairly basic features and allows you to create a very basic presentation (no themes, again!) with some shapes, callouts and pictures if need be (the pictures are from your iPad). Again, editing is limited to choosing the font and its layout, colour and so on. There’s no built-in animations and unless you want an extremely basic (and, in my opinion, boring) presentation, then you may as well save yourself some time and do it at home.
I was quite disappointed with QuickOffice Pro HD as an office suite, as well as for an app that is trying to call itself a “full-featured Microsoft Office productivity suite for iPad,” I would have expected much more sparkle and would have liked to have seen a lot more features than are present in this version. I found the entire app very rushed and it seemed to be that the developers had not put much effort into the finished product, something which seems a little cheeky as the price tag isn’t exactly favourable — $19.99 for an iPad app.
The two redeeming features of this app are the built-in cloud services and tight Microsoft Office support. But, given the editing features, I would say that QuickOffice is more suitable for simply reading documents, and if you want a full office suite with plenty of stuff built-in, I’d go for iWork.