Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad in Review

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Last year I was hot ‘n bothered for a mobile office app. What I got was Quickoffice, an app that went through a lengthy teething stage, but eventually became an iPhone keeper. This year’s Quickoffice Connect Mobile for the iPad is the culmination of a year’s worth of tweaks, good ol’ fashioned GUI design, and a glut of file support.

I’d like to start off angling Quickoffice’s good foot forward. The iPad is the productivity dilly in the iDevice line. The near full-sized keyboard can be flown over at speeds that rival or surpass a real keyboard and its large screen allows file hierarchies to be skimmed through with ease. Quickoffice makes very good use of the latter. Its file tree is instantly recognisable to any OSX user. It is simple and requires just a few clicks to get to any file. Making files and folders, too, which is enacted by the ‘+’ sign, is as easy as pay.

File Navigation

Sorting, emailing, and deleting files is just as easy: just tap and hold, then drag to either the trash, email, or other. It’s easy, if not elegant. The iPad’s screen makes navigation a breeze and Quickoffice did a good job of placing the right icons in the right places. If you work out of Google Docs, Dropbox, box, or mobileme, syncing and uploading is also a breeze. As has been the case since Quickoffice’ first iPhone suite, you can upload and download from your iPad to a computer via HTTP, and with iOS 4, upload and download within iTunes. That wealth of options is vital considering that you may not always be in the optimal place for syncing wirelessly. You can also set a cache limit on your device so that you don’t run over all 16GB or more of space on your iPad. Whew!

Quickoffice routinely saves files as you work on them for your peace of mind. As this is an automatic process, however, it can be annoying, especially when you are in the middle of typing furiously. It would be lovely if Quickoffice allowed users to turn automatic file saving off and default to the exit/save dialogue instead.

Editing

But despite its transfer bells and whistles, Quickoffice is about editing/creating. For people who work exclusively with Microsoft’s proprietary formats, it is a breeze as even rather complicated templates keep their text formatting pretty well intact. I’ve experienced loss of images on a number of files, but to be honest, I am glad: those images served only to weigh down the performance of the files even on my Mac.

In the settings menu, highlighting, font, colour, and paragraph options are all generally up to snuff though they tend to lag behind Apple’s Pages/Numbers. Bulleted lists can be added and Apple’s in-built spell-check is a life saver.

Setting alignment is actually really easy: just select your text, drag the sample between left, centre, and right; and voila! your text moves to where you want it to go. Still, a more typical icon or text-based placement system might have been easier to suss.

Excel file editing is even more straight forward; alignment, text, and formula options are easier to get to and edit. Actually, working with formulas and long lists on the touch screen is much more intuitive than working with a mouse and keyboard, though selecting to some extent, is slower.

A feature that I miss when switching back to Apple’s productivity suite is Quickoffice’s magnification zoom. Let’s face it: the iPad has a glorious screen and is great to work on, but when you have to reach a very specific pixel, even it needs help. Quickoffice calls Apple’s magnifying glass with a tap-and-hold, but also zooms the screen in so that copy/paste and select operations are easy.

Quickoffice is much more ergonomic than Pages is especially for the options: bold, underline, and italicise. You will never mistake an option to be off when it really is on. Since these functions are used especially often in essays and reviews, I’ve got a lot of respect for Quickoffice.

Issues

Quickoffice for iPad is set up very well, but it isn’t perfect. In comparison to Pages and Numbers, a few features are sorely missed. While you can edit files with tables, pictures, and charts, you cannot create them yourself. This leaves 100% iPad content creation out on the curb, as you will always need to use a computer for final clean up or relegate Quickoffice for mere editing.

The biggest letdown, however, is typing speed. In both Excel and Word formatted documents and text files, typing speed is slow. Barring mistakes, I type about as fast on the iPad as I do with a keyboard, in some places faster. In Quickoffice, letter dally along at their own pace, sometimes popping up long I am through typing. This is annoying and burns the eyes, especially if you spend a lot of time in a document. This isn’t the iPhone; if input speed is an issue, it will stick out like freshly sucked thumb in winter. For me, it kills the effectiveness of the productivity suite.

As mentioned above, there are missing fonts and fewer page setup features than Apple’s Pages or Numbers. Quickoffice evidently DID get the note: the iPad isn’t for content creation; it is for consumption. Paltry setup features are forgivable: no one expects iPad software to outdo home productivity suite, but input speed should be perfect on par with input ability. There is no excuse that forgives waiting for text to appear. Quickoffice, fix that issue and you will have a GREAT productivity app at a great price.

App Summary
Title: Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPadDeveloper: Quickoffice, Inc.
Reviewed Ver:1.1.0Min OS Req:
Price:$14.99App Size:14.99MB
  • Good file navigation
  • All modern Microsoft formats supported
  • Good adherence to templates
  • creating multimedia files isn’t easy
  • some text/formatting options are missing
  • text input is way too slow – this is the killer

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