Quip: The Word Processor Newbie With Big Ambitions

It’s Productivity Month on iPad.AppStorm! Throughout July, we plan to share with you all our tips, tricks, apps and resources to help you both improve your iPad experience and work better and more productively!

Quip was released today. Yes, today. And so we thought we’d get straight to work reviewing the iPad version of this freshly released app, developed by the ex-Facebook CTO and co-founder of Google Maps Bret Taylor, for your reading pleasure.

The app lets you collaborate with other users on projects that you’re working on — it’s a sort of word processor/project manager/ messaging system all rolled into one neat package. Quip also has a lot more features and uses that certainly make it worth your time checking it out. So, when you’re ready, click more to read on.

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Getting Started

You can download Quip from the App Store here, and, as with anything from the Store, you’ll be ready to get started within moments. The app will then ask you for a few details, such as your email address, name and a password so you can access the service from all of your devices. Once you’ve done that, a quick confirmation link click later and you’re ready to get to work using Quip.

The sign-up screen in Quip.

The sign-up screen in Quip.

Features — What Can I Do With It?

Arguably the biggest feature of Quip is its easy-to-use document editor. And when I say easy to use, I certainly mean: easy to use. Within moments I’d created a neat, clean and very readable document that could then be sent to any of my collaborators who had been added to my project.

Whilst this sounds basic, if you’re working on the move and as part of a team, the ease at which you can share your work, or include a colleague in a document (to get their opinion for example) is superb. Due to the built-in messaging system, there’s no need to save your documents and email them, or even share them outside the app itself. This is where Quip sets itself apart from its competitors such as Google Docs or iWork for iCloud. The total integration, between your content and additional services such as messaging makes Quip feel like a solid, reliable piece of software.

The main reason Quip is so easy to use is because it strips out a lot of the bulk that can be found in other word processors or its competitors, which can often be unnecessary and only serve to bloat the software, make it more complicated to learn and use and slow things down for both the user and those they’re collaborating with.

To this end, Quip only comes with a single font — Atlas Grotesk, which, in the short time I’ve been using the app, has certainly not been problematic. The fact that there’s only one font means you’ll focus less on how your work looks (Quip will automatically format for you — ensuring you’ll always have presentable content) and focus more on what actually matters: the quality of your content and getting tasks done.

Quip tracks changes to the document in real-time.

Quip tracks changes to the document in real-time.

I mentioned above that Quip allows easy collaboration with others, but this feature is so important it deserves its own section. The app’s collaborative editing feature is really what sets it apart from other similar services out there. Your updates to documents are processed in real time, such that anyone else working on the project with you will see what you’ve done instantly.

A kind of “track changes” feature that Quip calls Diffs keep track of who’s done what with the document, so you can always keep tabs of how your document is progressing. Because the app updates in real time, this removes the need to keep sending documents back and forth following recent updates — a great feature that both saves time and effort.

Quip will also lock a paragraph that another user is working on, to avoid confusing duplications or editing errors. This is a good idea in principal but it can hamper your workflow a little if you’re having to wait a significant amount of time for one of your collaborators to finish.

Another great feature of Quip is the use of the @ symbol. By using this symbol, you bring up a number of options. These allow you to slot an image into your work, create a table of information, mention a person who’s collaborating on the project or link to another document or folder that you’ve created within Quip. It works well and feels very intuitive — I guess that’s a product of using Twitter.

Using @ opens up a number of options that you can put into your document.

Using @ opens up a number of options that you can put into your document.

All of the @ features are useful and some will obviously get more use than others depending on what you’re using Quip for. I think the linking feature is really neat as it allows to you create more efficient and “to the point” documents since you can “delegate” long drawn out sections that aren’t essential to another document ready for the reader to view if need be.

By doing this you improve the flow of your document, making it easier on the eye as well the word count. Unfortunately the table function doesn’t double up as a spreadsheet, which I think is a pretty big oversight from the developers but is certainly something that could be quite easily introduced in future versions of the app.

Conclusions

This review has only scratched the surface of what Quip offers to the end user. The best way to explore what the app fully offers is to try it our for yourself here. The fact that it combines a fluid UI, with great collaborative features and an intuitive feel means you’ll more than likely love using Quip.

The app and service isn’t without problems however. In my opinion, the lack of an option to export your documents to Word is an issue (you can only export to PDF). With Word and Office standing as the powerhouses they are, this is a big gamble. Perhaps the decision was taken from a strategy perspective, since this effectively ties users in to using Quip. This strategy does however rely on the assumption that users will flock to Quip and with great services out there already such as Google Docs, iWork for iCloud and Office 365, only time will tell whether this will happen or not.

Have you used Quip? If so, what do you think about it? If not, will you be tempted to use Quip? Let us know in the comments section below!


Summary

A word processing tool with collaborative editing and messaging functionality.

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  • Stevoz

    This should have been the app Google came up with for Google Docs!
    It’s a great, uncomplicated app that does what it’s supposed to, but I feel quite isolated from where most of my content is already stored (Google). It would have been great if I could access my external docs and not be restricted.

    Maybe a future update will hopefully allow collaboration on other cloud documents as well.

    Awesome app nonetheless.

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