Quickoffice is no stranger to the mobile Office space. Indeed, the software itself has been around in one form or another since 1998. Most recently, however, the app has strolled into Apple's App Store, and we'll be taking a closer look at what may possibly be the most serious productivity app to sashay over to the iPhone OS. Priced at $19.99, the app certainly isn't inexpensive, but it offers a few luxuries that businesspeople and Office mavens alike may not be able to live without. We're talking real, unadulterated editing of Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and text files, not to mention a fairly robust file management system as well as a PDF and JPEG viewer. Care to find out what we thought after taking it for a spin? Hop on past the break.
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Quickoffice for iPhone impressions
From the get-go, Quickoffice for iPhone is easy to get into. It's not daunting, it's not overwhelming; it's simplified just enough to make navigation easy, yet the underlying software is markedly powerful. The general idea here is to create your own personal Office space within your iPhone, a place where you can keep all of your needed documents so that you can edit, re-save and email on-the-go.
Indeed, the app makes it dead simple to create new folders, move files to and fro, move folders within folders, create new spreadsheets or Word documents, delete files / folders and email material right from within. Without a doubt, the most laudatory aspect of the whole program is its ability to show up on a Mac or PC as a network drive. So long as your WiFi is active and a hotspot is nearby, you can simply instruct your machine to mount the drive via an IP address that it spits out up front, and within 30 seconds, you're browsing Quickoffice's lairs right on your computer.
From there, the idea is to drag-and-drop important files from your PC to the appropriate Quickoffice folders. Oh, and yes, you can definitely create new folders on your computer and watch them appear on your Quickoffice app within three seconds or so. After you've loaded up those templates via the PC, you can peek down at your iPhone and sit stunned as all of your most critical desktop files now have a place on your handset to call home. Once the files are in the application (and thus, on your phone), you can easily edit, overwrite, save as a new file or shuffle files, not to mention send in an email.
Frankly, we were absolutely thrilled with the performance of this application, and the biggest gripes we had stem from Apple's mulishness and not any failure on the software's part. As we stated earlier, changes made on the PC took literally seconds to appear on the phone, and transfers were as seamless as could be. It was almost scary how seamless and simple it was to stock our iPhone with important documents. We we're also floored by the email aspect; you can select as many files as you wish on the app before confirming that those are the attachments you wish to send, and once you forge ahead, you can simply pen your email and send away. The messages arrive exactly as you'd expect a message with attachments to arrive, and if you leave out that pesky "Sent from my iPhone" message, the recipient would never that know you crafted the whole message on a phone.
As for document editing, again, we were pleasantly surprised at just how fully-featured the options were. Cut, paste, undo, redo, italics, bold, font size, font style, font color and highlighting options were all readily available, and while your font style options are indeed limited to a handful, that shouldn't bother those generating documents for business purposes. Seriously -- have you ever sent in a quarter-end report penned in Wingdings? Take it from us: it typically doesn't go over well. We did find it somewhat odd that we couldn't highlight a string of words, but the tap-and-drag approach is actually far superior than what our feeble minds had anticipated. In other words, it's amazingly simple to select words, letters or whole paragraphs in order to add styles or change sizes.
Sure, editing and creating documents and Excel files on a handset is far, far slower than doing so on a machine with a real monitor and a real keyboard, but it's not a particularly painful process on Quickoffice. That fact alone is pretty astounding, as we definitely can't say the same about every Office app on every mobile platform. The version we tested, v1.20, adds a few much appreciated features including auto-correction (which worked stupendously), auto-capitalization, double-tap space bar to create a period, the ability to adjust indentation on bulleted / numbered lists, 'Find' text (next / previous) and set paragraph alignment. Quickoffice assures us that MS Office 2007 (.xlsx and .docx) support is on the way as part of a free upgrade.
One of our most-wanted features here can't ever be added until Apple decides to loosen up its restrictions around email. Quickoffice even makes clear that the inability to access email attachments through the app is due to "current Apple OS constraints." Why does this suck, exactly? Imagine this: your manager shoots you a new Word document and wants you to add a few lines to the end. If Quickoffice had access to your email attachments, you could just enter your inbox, pull said file into whatever folder you wanted, edit it, re-save it and send it right back. That would be sweet, but alas, we've Apple to thank for killing our hopes and dreams.
That said, we're really (really!) excited about the future of Quickoffice. If Apple ever enables the program to tap into your inbox and it's able to access more than just MobileMe accounts, this app would be a hands-down winner. In case you weren't aware, users can pull down / send up files to their MobileMe account from within the app, and while Google Docs access has yet to be added, Quickoffice is definitely hoping to add support in the near future. Imagine being able to upload a freshly tweaked document right to your GDocs account, enable sharing and allow your colleague halfway across the globe to take it from there. All while you're in the movie theater at 2:00PM. It's a beautiful thought, no?
Outside of those gripes, we were also mildly annoyed by the inability to edit folder names from within Quickoffice, and also, the inability to mount your Quickoffice share while on 3G was another buzz-kill. We understand that performance would suffer greatly compared to WiFi transfers, but at least give us the option for those times when no hotspot is available. Truthfully, Quickoffice still isn't connected enough for us to love unashamedly. We still need inbox attachment access (being that no one can send a file directly to your Quickoffice folder) and we still need the ability to download and upload files to / from Google Docs. The sad part is that while the latter is apt to happen in due time, we're not so sure the first (and most important) wish will ever happen.
So, is Quickoffice for iPhone worth the Jackson you'll have to lay down to get it? If you aren't totally bummed by the inability to access your inbox attachments, and you don't mind waiting a bit for access to Google Docs, we'd say yes. We were flabbergasted by the overall speed of the app; everything from recognizing changes made on a connected PC to the actual editing of documents occurred in real-time, with essentially no lag found anywhere in the entire program. There's nothing that kills a productivity app faster than lag, and we're elated to report that lag has been thoroughly omitted from this one. Still, without the ability to receive a file through email, open it in Quickoffice, edit it and re-send it, the app loses a lot of its luster. Through no fault of its own, sure, but the fact remains true regardless. If that access was ever granted, you'd be crazy to pass this one up -- even at twice the price.