The Best Office Apps for Android Tablets
The Best Android Spreadsheet Editor
Spreadsheet capabilities are crucial to an office suite's appeal -- especially on a tablet, where ease-of-use is more important than ever. So which of our Android office apps has what it takes to excel?
Documents to Go
The spreadsheet editor in Documents to Go is feature-packed, but once again, its outdated interface makes it tough to recommend for tablet users. Like its word processor, the app's spreadsheet editor has all of its functions hidden in a legacy menu button that appears alongside the main system navigation icons at the bottom of the screen. It looks and feels like you're working on last year's smartphone instead of this year's tablet.
Google Docs (Google Drive)
Google Docs offers very limited spreadsheet editing capabilities. First and foremost, only spreadsheets saved in Google Docs format will open in the app, rendering it useless for editing of any desktop-created documents. Beyond that, only the most basic data-entry and row-sorting functions are supported -- and even those tasks are somewhat difficult to perform. More advanced features like text formatting, calculations, and multiple worksheet toggling are all missing in action.
Using the spreadsheet editor in OfficeSuite Pro is about as close as you can get to a desktoplike Excel experience on your tablet. OfficeSuite Pro makes spreadsheet input and editing easy, and it packs a huge range of features -- everything from three-dimensional chart creation to cell freezing, comment insertion, and numerous data-manipulation functions. OfficeSuite Pro's spreadsheet editor has full multiworksheet support along with find-and-replace functionality, a jump-to-cell option, and simple multicell selection.
Quickoffice Pro HD
The spreadsheet editor in Quickoffice Pro HD is solid, but it falls short of reaching the same level of excellence that OfficeSuite Pro achieves. The app supports multiple worksheets but lacks chart creation tools and other advanced features. It has some data-manipulation functions but hides them in a curiously small scrollable box. Compared to OfficeSuite Pro, Quickoffice's interface looks noticeably less sharp and compelling, with far fewer options in easily accessible places.
ThinkFree Mobile for Tablet
ThinkFree Mobile is another mixed bag when it comes to spreadsheet editing. The app has some useful features, like basic chart creation, shape insertion, and text box insertion, but it's missing certain items, such as a list of data-manipulation functions. Want to calculate an average or add up a row of numbers? You won't find any way to do it in this program.
Once again, OfficeSuite Pro steals the show. It combines a great interface with a powerful lineup of features, leaving every other office suite in its dust.
The Best Android Tablet Presentation Software
Only four of our five Android office suite contenders offer support for presentations -- sorry, Docs -- and each has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.
Documents to Go
Documents to Go allows you to create, view, and edit PowerPoint presentations, but its options are severely limited and its interface--you guessed it--is sorely dated and difficult to use.
The Documents to Go presentation editor supports only plain-text slides. On top of that, you can't even view the slides with their proper formatting while you edit them; instead, you're forced to toggle over to an "outline view" in order to change text. Options -- of which there are few -- are hidden in a old-fashioned legacy menu icon. Altogether, this offering is about as unimpressive as can be.
OfficeSuite Pro provides you with 10 presentation templates, each with its own background and graphical theme. Within each template, however, your options for customization are rather limited: You can touch any text field to type in words, and you can move any field by pressing it and sliding your finger around the screen.
Beyond that, you're pretty much stuck with the setup the template gives you; commands for changing text color and size and for inserting images are nowhere to be found. OfficeSuite Pro does have controls for text indentation and bulleting, though, as well as for reordering and duplicating slides. It also supports slide-specific notes.
Quickoffice Pro HD
Quickoffice Pro HD has an impressive range of slide-creation tools. The app gives you a choice of 11 different templates for each slide you add and allows you to easily insert and format text to your liking, changing the font type, color, and style as needed. It also has options for inserting images from your tablet's gallery or camera, as well as options for inserting a variety of shapes, lines, and arrows.
The app's Achilles' heel: It lacks any backgrounds or graphical themes, which -- despite its success in customization -- results in plain and dull-looking slides.
ThinkFree Mobile for Tablet
Like Quickoffice, ThinkFree has a nice range of slide-creation tools, including options for inserting text boxes, tables, shapes, and images. The app has just three graphical background options, though. While it's an improvement over Quickoffice, it still restricts the way you can make your presentations look.
This one is tricky, as none of the apps' presentation functionality is 100 percent perfect. That said, OfficeSuite Pro's simple and attractive graphical templates make it the best choice for anyone looking to create basic presentations or to edit and manipulate existing presentations. For anyone who needs more finite control over newly created slideshows, ThinkFree may be a better choice, thanks to its superior customization tools--but know that any presentations you create with it will be somewhat limited in the way they can look due to the app's underwhelming background selection.
The Best Android Tablet PDF Markup Program
While all of our office suite contenders allow for PDF viewing, only one of them provides an option for highlighting or marking up the files: Quickoffice Pro HD.
Given the fact that Quickoffice lags behind other office suite contenders in so many areas, however, I wouldn't recommend spending $20 on it for this function alone. Instead, I'd suggest grabbing Unidocs' EzPDF, available for $3.
EzPDF has a huge number of features, all in a slick-looking interface that translates nicely to the tablet form. EzPDF lets you annotate documents with text or freehand drawing. You can highlight or underline text, add in shapes and images, and crop or rotate preformatted pages. The app can select text from PDF documents, too, after which you can copy it to your system clipboard and use it as needed in other applications.
EzPDF is even built to work naturally with stylus devices, making it an excellent option for users with pen-based tablets like Samsung's Galaxy Note. With the program's free cloud plug-in add-on, you can also connect it directly to your Google Docs account for seamless in-app access to cloud-based files.
Putting it All Together: The Ideal Android Tablet Office Suite
For word processing, spreadsheet editing, and presentation management, OfficeSuite Pro is the best overall office suite available for Android tablets. From its stellar interface to its wide range of features and cloud connectivity options, OfficeSuite Pro delivers a superb user experience and stands in a league of its own. Its primary drawback is in the area of presentations, where it shines at simple slide creation--with a variety of ready-made, slick-looking backgrounds -- but is limited in the amount of customization it provides.
If PDF editing is part of your routine, you'll want to add EzPDF to the equation; it offers a standout tablet-optimized interface for marking up PDF documents in any way you might need. With its $3 price tag, your total expense between that and OfficeSuite will be $18 -- still $2 less than you'd spend on Quickoffice, which includes PDF markup functionality but is significantly less impressive than OfficeSuite Pro in many other regards.
With those tools at your disposal, your tablet will be well on its way to becoming a mobile work machine. If you can manage to stay away from Words with Friends, your potential for productivity should be sky-high.
[This story, "The best office apps for Android tablets," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.]
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