Updated: QuickOffice Mobile Office Suite in Review – A Mostly Productive Productivity Suite

Join the long list of people waiting for a proper Microsoft Office editing suite. Take a number. Have a seat. And maybe a coffee. Several good options have made appearance at the App Store but none are quite ready to be dubbed true Office Editors.

QuickOffice, a suite a suite comprised of Word and Excel editors, takes charge of a few great features of the iDevice and makes Office editing possible along with file sharing and creation. To attest the fact, this review has entirely been written on my iPod touch.

Take a look at my updated review of Openoffice which looks at the placement of necessary features which were missing in the original release.

Transfering Files
Transferring files to your device is accomplished in a few ways, namely WiFi, email and through iDisk. Since the iDevice works from a sandbox which is designed to protect the device and its contents from intrusion and propogation of malware, QuickOffice has to jump through a few hoops to share and edit files.

There are no sync functions to automaticalliy sync the data of your computer and iPhone, rather you need to transfer files via http mode which can be accessed from your web browser or via mounting the iPhone from the same WiFi connection. It is easy, if not elegant. Simply go to settings in the main window, turn on File Transfers and make note of the ip address which is located at the bottom of the main screen or in settings under file transfers. You can open the contents of you iDevice by either mounting your iPhone from the finder using command-k or inputting the same address into a web browser. If you have a MobileMe account, you can also log into it from the Edit menu on the main page. File transfer speed is fast, responsive and worry-free.

Strangely, neither iWork 2009 file viewing nor GoogleDocs are supported. As a software platform that caters to mobile phones and the iPod Touch, internet connectivity and alternate methods of storage are necessary. QuickOffice for other platforms also supports Microsoft Powerpoint files, but again, the iPhone version is left with a hole where a function used to be. Another omission is the inability to write in Japanese or Chinese and presumably other input methods. This is a hard pebble in the shoe of many iPhone users who need to type in non-latin alphabets.

Security
While a simple editing app like this does not work with encrypted files, it does use a passcode lock to gain access to any documents on you iDevice. It is a step in the right direction, however, the passcode is a mere four-character numeric word. Though unlikely to be stolen, your romance novels and juicy financial spreadsheets are not completely safe from prying eyes. Encrypted files and keys would at least feel much safer and would be great boon to the QuickOffice suite.

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Navigation
From the document selection screen, you can add folders, move files and send attachment email. You can also bin what you don’t want and create new spreadsheets, Word documents or text files. Clicking on the blue carrot next to any file will bring up basic information such as file size, kind, date created and updated and name (which can also be edited) whereas clicking anywhere else in the file row will open the document. Navigation is a breeze from start to finish and the app is never an eyesore.

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QuickWord
QuickOffice ‘supports’ Microsoft Word quite well with a slew of the most used editing functions within Microsoft Word:

  • Copy/Cut/Paste
  • Word and Paragraph selection via double and triple taps
  • Zooming
  • Native text wrap
  • A few often used text formatting functions: bold, italics, font selection and styles
  • Bulleted lists
  • Doc 1997-2003 editing; 2007 DocX viewing
  • Free Update: Edit 2007 .DOCX files, auto-correction (predictive text), auto-cap (first letter)

Use
In practical use, Quickword is efficient and yet highly obtuse. Input is managed from landscape or portrait mode – typing longer documents (such as this one) is quite fast. All-caps words too, are easy to type thanks to a caps lock function. To start typing, either tap the keyboard icon or a space inside the document or text and like Apple’s software features, holding down on a word will allow you to drag the cursor to editable places within the document. Strangely however, rather than a magnifying glass denoting cursor position, the storyboard zooms in as if the workspace were composed of pre-rendered pixels. While this works fairly well in practice, letters do not maintain crisp, resolved edges and scrolling left to right is difficult as the cursor moves the screens extemities. As far as viewing and simple editing, QuickWord is nearly flawless. However, as you will see, there are also many omissions.

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Editing
Native text wrap reformats every document to fit the screen layout of your iDevice and is a blessing. You won’t have to scroll far to the left and to the right just to edit or compose documents. If you are prone to mistype (guilty), Quickoffice has a deep undo/redo pipeline which is full of grace to probably about 10 steps. If, however, you get further from shore, you will have to restore from a backup save of the document. Unfortunately, there is no software anywhere that can account for the silliest of human errors. Spell-check is also missing and while not a deal-breaker, its lack adds to a weighty list of “can’ts” that tangles the user.

Fonts
QuickOffice included some commonly used fonts from 8 point to full 72: Arial, Courier, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and Verdana. QuickOffice, in typical Apple fashion, do not give a preview of the font from the font selection menu. This has been a personal beef with nearly every contemporary Apple application – a problem that does not need to have been replicated in a Microsoft Office compatible software suite.

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Paragraphing
Neither paragraph editing, line spacing nor tabbing made it into this version but with many customers clamouring for those features, they surely will come in a future update.

In short, the good points of QuickWord outweigh the omission, but only barely. It is a remarkable app for either viewing or making small edits to Word documents. However, there is still much work to be done with regards to document creation. QuickOffice’s biggest omission, predictive text and auto-correction are said to be addressed in a future update, making QuickWord that much closer to a truly competent word processor. Those features however, should have been included from release and their absence makes little sense in an app that markets itself as an Office suite for mobile phones which above all need shortcuts and software crutches.

QuickSheet

  • The excel editor though simple and lacking uniform features such as cut and paste is perhaps more of an arguably proper standalone app. QuickWord, akin to Windows Wordpad or MacOS’s Text Editor in its simplistic feel and feature set is paled by Microsoft’s Word. Excel-like functions are not included by default in either OS without a separate purchase – a fact that tips the scale in favour of this over-achieving app.
  • Double tapping a cell selects a range
  • Easily change inputs and recalculate
  • Auto-backup
  • Easy switch between worksheets
  • Insert new rows/columns
  • Supports .XLS (1997-2003) editing and .XLSX (2007) viewing.
  • Free Update: Edit 2007 .XLSX files, landscape editing, copy/paste, delete cells, set/remove cell borders, edit font type and size.

Firstly, Quicksheet supports 125 advanced Excel features, if those features are mathematical or text-driven. Its interface is simple and fits very well with the platform, utilising double taps, text boxes and simplified iPhone-specific touch controls such as pinch and zoom. Even landscape mode made its way into QuickSheet, though editing is more advanced in portrait mode.

Excel files import wonderfully and are easy to read from the first page to the last even if your document has many pages. In my testing of the app, I did not try to kill it, but just use it normally as I would at home or at work. What I found is that while nearly flawless as a day-to-day viewer and very simple editor, it is far from being a perfect portable Excel-ready spreadsheet. Though for instance many Excel functions are wonderfully supported, they are much harder and tiring to introduce into any creation or editing work. The interface is sleek and designed well around the iPhone, but the hardware itself is too limited to work well with pages and pages of tables, equations and text. Also, there needs to be more cheats to help the poor user along the way. Excel is full of them and a handful of the most common would be most welcome this side of the iPhone.

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Document compatibility is for the most part, bliss. As long as files are straightforward, they are viewable and editable. The same goes for creation. However, Quicksheets sadly neither creates, views or edits graphs. This is unfortunate as graphs form the backbone of many people’s Excel spreadsheets. Copy and paste have still not made it into a public build and cells cannot be deleted.

Conclusion
While a gallant effort, QuickOffice emerges a little tired and battered from the field. It is obvious in the iPhone world that apps are rushed out of the door in order beat a competitor to market, but in the end, such a strategy hurts app quality. QuickOffice could have been a kiss had it not neglected some finer points of UI design and text input. Of course a spellcheck function and a deeper undo/redo pipeline would be welcome and truly set QuickOffice apart from its mundane older siblings, Wordpad and Text Editor. When those functions finally make it to the App Store, I hope they come in a free update. The lack of useful input for non-Roman alphabets is also disheartening for those of us who use such functions on a daily basis.

That said, the suite works well and in many ways, is better than I expected. WiFi uploading/downloading, saving, renaming and moving are all wonderful and mark the suite as a truly usable portable package. However, if you are a heavy user of Word and Excel, a netbook and OpenOffice is still the cheapest reliable alternative to a full fledged Microsoft Office suite.

In the meantime, QuickOffice earns a Grab from TouchMyApps.

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App Summary
Title:QuickOffice Mobile Office Suite(v 1.2.0)Developer:QuickOffice
Price:$19.99App Size:6.9 MB
  • Nice interface
  • Compatible with 1997-2003 Word and Excel
  • Landscape and Portrait Editing
  • File Transfers work well
  • Range of commonly used Editing tools
  • Copy and Paste in Word
  • Great ‘find’ function
  • Where is Spellcheck?
  • Where is Powerpoint?
  • No graphs in Sheets?
  • Chinese and Japanese input still sketchy

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