Phones

The Right Office Apps for the iPhone at Work

The best word processor for the iPhone If you're using an iPhone to create or edit documents, expect to be limited to simple tasks, like basic editing, touchup work, commenting, and creating summaries or basic notes. Neither office app supports revision tracking; if that's essential to your workflow, you're out of luck.

Quickoffice. Quickoffice's word processor is simple, with straightforward controls for basic formatting, such as font, text size, paragraph alignment, and lists. But Quickoffice has neither search-and-replace nor even search-only capability. It also lacks a word counter.

I found it awkward to have to tap a Done button to close some of the pop-up dialog boxes that Quickoffice uses for formatting. I kept trying to tap elsewhere on the screen, as is the typical approach in iOS to close a control.

There are no layout controls, so you can use Quickoffice only to work on text. Happily, Quickoffice retains the style sheets in your imported documents, so they're intact when you later export a document, even though it doesn't let you create, edit, or apply styles.

Quickoffice can connect to Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs, and MobileMe cloud storage, as well as to a computer directly over Wi-Fi. It also of course can email documents. And it provides a Save As option, as well as an internal folder structure so that you can organize your documents.

DocsToGo. DataViz's app is similar to Quickoffice in terms of its capabilities: a simple text editor with basic formatting options and the same cloud storage connection options. However, DocsToGo offers more capabilities, such as search and replace and word counting.

I couldn't recommend the iPad version of DocsToGo due to a really dumb UI design: All controls are at the bottom of the screen, where they become hidden by the onscreen keyboard. The iPhone version has the same design, but it doesn't cause a problem as it does on the iPad. The reason: You typically type with one finger on an iPhone, so tapping the floating Hide Keyboard button right above the onscreen keyboard is a trivial task that doesn't get in the way. On an iPad, where you tend to type with multiple fingers, the action to hide the onscreen keyboard is somehow much more of an interruption, and putting the controls at the bottom of the screen is fairly standard in iPhone apps -- Quickoffice does it too.

DocsToGo is slightly easier to use than Quickoffice, as its basic formatting options can be selected from menus, with no closing dialog boxes. If you open a "more" dialog box, though, you have to tap Done to close it, as in Quickoffice.

The verdict: DocsToGo. You get more editing capabilities than in Quickoffice, and a slightly more straightforward user interface.

The best spreadsheet editor for the iPhone The capabilities of the candidate spreadsheet editors are much closer than for the word processors.

Quickoffice. Excel users will take to Quickoffice quickly, as it works very similarly. Quickoffice has a large set of functions, and it's easy to work with cells, rows, and columns, even on the small screen. Functions are also easy to insert, thanks to the Excel-like function menus that insert a sample formula for you.

Switching worksheets requires opening a menu of sheet names -- there are no tabs to tap -- so Excel users (and users of Quickoffice on the iPad) will have a bit of an adjustment to make in terms of navigation. Quickoffice has no charting tools, nor the ability to sort columns or rows, freeze panes, or hide columns or rows.

DocsToGo. The spreadsheet capabilities in DocsToGo are superior to those in Quickoffice, offering several features not found in Quickoffice, including the abilities to search text, hide rows and columns, sort rows and columns, and freeze panes. It also offers a go-to-cell function and can display the spreadsheet in full screen.

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