Best office suite for Android
The ability to use your smartphone anyway makes it a handy tool for catching up with office work on the go. But while the number of apps available for business has exploded, quality and performance can vary.
This is especially the case for office suite software for writing, editing, and saving documents and spreadsheets. A further difficulty is that office software doesn't necessarily lend itself well to the smallest screens and small keypads.
In addition to this, some apps have difficulty working with the same document type when saved in a different software platform, which can cause frustration. Therefore it's imperative to find the right office suite apps that make it as easy and simple to work on your mobile device as you need.
While there are web app software office platforms available, not least Microsoft Office 365, and Google's G Suite, we're going to focus not just on office suite software for Android but specifically those available as apps through the Google Play store.
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Editing and viewing documents made easy with this collaboration app
Quip is an online collaborative software suite that is available on Android devices. The company was founded in 2012 by Bret Taylor, who was a former Facebook CTO, in conjunction with Kevin Gibbs, founder of the Google App Engine.
The main features of Quip are the spreadsheet and word processing functions which allow online collaboration as well as alterations on the corresponding Android apps. All members of the group can view and edit documents at the same time and also have the ability to add comments if need be. Quip also has its own chat rooms and it is used by major players such as Amazon and Dell.
Quip offers a free tier, although it’s based on the activity of the user, rather than on the number of days you use it for. So, the more you make use of it, the more free time you will receive.
The paid tier is $30 per month based on a team of five and costs an extra $10 per month for each additional member you want to add. This enables you to use spreadsheets, chat and Live Apps such as a Calendar. If you need assistance there is also excellent support available. The app allows you to work offline and sync documents when you are next online.
Some online reviews have criticized Quip's ability to load PDF documents saying that it is limited and sometimes can be time consuming. Further note that the app only supports a limited number of import/export formats.
A powerful suite with word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools
DataViz, the company that established Docs to Go, started off with a product that connected Macs and PCs together. Docs to Go was subsequently created for BlackBerry and is now a multi-platform app.
The Android app allows users to view Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office files. From here you can edit and create Excel, PowerPoint and Word files, all in the palm of your hand. Docs to Go has many formatting tools, such as word count, tables, font color and the ability to track changes.
There's a free and premium version of the app. Both support editing and formatting within the app, along with advanced Excel support. Some features such as cloud services, desktop sync, and password-protected file support require in-app purchases of between $5.99 and $14.99. Both the free and premium applications are optimized for use on a tablet with portrait and landscape views.
Docs to Go has its own versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These are known as Word to Go, Sheet to Go and Slideshow to Go. The only criticism the solution seems to receive is that PDF files tend to cause the app to crash, with folks being advised to stick with a separate PDF viewer for this purpose.
An excellent basic suite with optional extra features
SmartOffice claims to offer the most accurate representation of Microsoft Office products that can be seen on a mobile app. It is one of the few free office suite solutions for Android out there. The company used to have a paid product, but in recent times has got rid of that to offer this free version, which comes with all the features needed to make a truly innovative app.
As the official Microsoft Office apps can take up a lot of storage space, this app is perfect for space-constrained users, as it only utilizes 16MB. The user interface is straightforward and simple to use, too.
The app offers password protection so that you have extra security when saving any documents you have been working on. Users can edit and share Microsoft documents easily and efficiently, plus all files can be converted to a PDF if needed. Documents can be opened and saved online with access to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive.
SmartOffice supports several image formats such as PNG, JPG, GIF, TIFF and BMP. Wireless printing is also supported. It is compatible with all versions of Word since 1997 and supports over 37 different languages. The only real criticism of this suite is that the copy and paste options appear to be needlessly complicated, and as such, can take a while to figure out.
A formidable free office suite – if you can put up with the ads
WPS Office is an office suite developed by Chinese software outfit Kingsoft. The Android version was released in 2014 and weighs in at 38MB. The app is free to download but in-app purchases can be made and these range from $0.99 to $29.99. The suite comprises of WPS Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheet.
The WPS PDF reader has the ability to convert PDF to WPS and is able to read Adobe PDF files. The app supports a number of file types such as DOC, RTF, DOT, PPTX, TXT and HTML amongst others. All documents are fully compatible with Microsoft Office and Google Docs.
The app allows you to securely encrypt your files with passkeys, and you can edit your documents without fear of losing your work thanks to the auto-save option. Features include the ability to track changes, comments, and run spell checks.
Another handy feature supported by the app is the ability to present documents straight from your smartphone (or tablet) to a compatible TV or projector. WPS for Android also supports 47 different languages.
The downside here is that if you’re not a paid user, you get shown adverts, and they are seemingly quite intrusive.
A user-friendly suite with neat chat and collaboration options
OfficeSuite was first released as a mobile app in 2004 on Palm OS, where it was mainly read-only until 2009. At this time Sony requested an Android version within a very short time span of 12 weeks. This was achieved and OfficeSuite for Android was born. The product is now a fully featured cross-platform productivity suite.
Although OfficeSuite is free to download, there are in-app purchases from anywhere between $1.49 - $49.99 per item. A Personal use subscriptions costs $29.99 a year, with a Group option for work charged at $49.99 for up to five people. A Business tier charges $3.99 per user per month.
If you purchase the Pro version you won't be forced to make certain in-app purchases (for example, paying for extra fonts), but you can still make purchases if you wish.
This suite is also fully compatible with a large number of file formats such as ODT, PDF, RTF, TXT and CSV. However, the free app is inundated with ads. Further note that you will need to upgrade to the premium version if you want to open certain file types such as ODT.
The OfficeSuite Drive allows you to store up to 5GB of files in the cloud. The new Chats feature helps co-workers to collaborate and swap documents online. The app is fully compatible with all Microsoft documents and boasts support for PDF files with features such as camera scanning and PDF exports.
Other Android office suites to consider
We've covered just a few of the office apps for Android above, but there are plenty more to consider. Here we'll add a few more than are also worth thinking about:
G Suite has already been briefly mentioned in the introduction, and while there are limitations to Google Docs and other apps in the G Suite compared to other offerings, it's still worth considering. This is not least because of the integration between the different Google apps and other Google services, not least GMail and G Drive (aka Google Drive) which means it provides a decent if sometimes basic all-in-one office software solution. Perhaps the bigger sell is the collaborative functions that are available to use across G Suite, which could make them ideal for small teams. Available as a web application via the G Suite website, or as an app for Android such as Google Docs the G Suite is worth considering as a personal or business solution.
Polaris Office is another big office software suite, providing word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations in a single app for Android. Advertised as an All-in-One Complete Office Suite, it's compatible with Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat files. In fact, it has a decent list of file types it can work with, not least DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PPS, PPSX, TXT, HWP, ODT as well as PDF. Even better, it's free, though it is advertising-driven and in-app purchases are available to both remove the apps as well as expand the available feature list.
Zoho Sheet is just one of a large number of apps from the Zoho Corporation for office and business use, all of which should integrate easily with one another. As with some of the above, collaborative working is available on shared documents. Not only is Zoho Sheet free, it also works easily with Excel files for creating, editing, and saving.
AndrOpen Office works with the OpenDocument format and advertises itself as 'the world's first porting of OpenOffice for Android'. As with other office suites, it provides a platform for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, but also comes with a drawing feature as well as a math editor. AndrOpen Office certainly contains a lot of features and is compatible with a huge range of file types that most other applications can't touch, so for accessibility it's definitely a winner.
Thinkfree Office viewer is another one worth mentioning, as it's built to work with a lot of different file types for viewing, editing, and saving. The main focus is on accessibility through cross platform use. At 26 MB it's also a small file to download, no doubt to the simplicity of interface to make editing documents easy. The app is free to download, though there are in-app purchases available for additional features.
Microsoft Office remains the standard by which most other office software platforms compete against, and Microsoft Word is no different. While we've mainly focused on alternative's to Microsoft's flagship productivity software for office, some people will always find it difficult to transition to new and different software platforms. At least Microsoft provides free apps of its office software for Android, not least Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for those who would rather not change, at least yet. And if nothing else, you could always upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 if you'd prefer to pay for the full range of features.
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