7 office suites for Android devices

You can take your work with you, thanks to several office suites which let you view and edit your documents on an Android device. Most were originally designed for use on a smartphone, but here are seven that are compatible with most Android tablets that run Android 2.3 (codenamed "Gingerbread").

We're listing these apps in reverse order, from the least to the most useful.

7. Google Docs (Free)

Android Market Page

Main features: View and edit text, spreadsheets, slideshows and PDFs stored on your Google Docs account. You can also create text and spreadsheets from scratch, but not slideshow presentations.

Notable extras: You can view images that you've uploaded to your Google Docs account.

Cut-and-paste UI: Double-tap on text and two indicators appear, which you drag to highlight passages of text. Then touch and hold on the highlighted passage for a second, and a menu pops open listing editing choices.

Conclusion: You cannot upload office documents to your Google Docs account through this app, although you can upload images. Apparently, it's meant to mainly serve as a companion tool to the Google Docs site -- i.e. you upload your documents to the site first, and then use this app to view them, do simple file management, and very basic editing.

6. Documents To Go ($14.99)

Android Market Page

Main features: View, edit and create text, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations. View PDF files.

Cloud storage: Can load documents directly from your Google Docs account for viewing and editing.

Notable extras: A free app provided by the developer, DataViz, lets you sync your documents created with Documents To Go between your Android device and a Windows computer.

Cut-and-paste UI: Double-tap on text to highlight it, and after that, you tap the Menu button again to pull up a series of choices for editing. Pasting text is a similar process that relies on tapping Menu.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Could not load images contained in .docx files. Could not display charts or images in either .xls or .xlsx files. Some .ppt files would not load.

Conclusion: Very minimal feature-set in presentation app. Expensive for what it doesn't provide.

5. Kingsoft Office (Free)

Android Market Page

Main features: View, edit and create text and spreadsheet documents. You can view and edit slideshow presentations, but oddly, you cannot create one from scratch. View PDF files.

Cloud storage: Can load documents directly from your Box.net account for viewing and editing.

Notable extras: Nothing really stands out, except the price.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Loaded various .doc, .docx, .ppt and .pptx files we threw at it, but had the most trouble with Excel formats (.xls and .xlsx) -- unable to render charts or cell and table formatting correctly for many files.

Conclusion: It's disappointing that this suite can't access your Google Docs files. Also, the spreadsheet app is really limited. But for a tablet, this suite has a cut-and-paste UI that works well, and is a decent reader app to view your Word and PowerPoint files.

4. OfficeSuite Pro ($9.99)

Android Market Page

Main features: View, edit and create text and spreadsheet documents, and slideshow presentations. View PDF files.

Cloud storage: Can load documents directly from your Google Docs account for viewing and editing.

Notable extras: The company behind OfficeSuite Pro, Mobile Systems, makes extra money by selling dictionary modules for use with their suite. Compared to the other suites in this round-up (with the exception of ThinkFree Mobile for Tablet), the OfficeSuite Pro word processing app has several features you'd expect to find in a typical word processor. The spreadsheet app includes a useful and convenient tool for creating charts.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Had difficulty displaying charts and images embedded in some .xls files.

Conclusion: Although its low price is great, OfficeSuite Pro's difficulty with loading a few Excel files with embedded images, and its presentation maker (which has minimal content-creating capabilities), make it fall just a bit short of the other choices we evaluated.

3. Quickoffice Pro (14.99)

Main features: View, edit and create text and spreadsheet documents, and slideshow presentations. View PDF files. Designed specifically for tablet use.

Cloud storage: Can load your documents stored on Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs, Huddle, MobileMe or SugarSync.

Notable extras: Lets you take a photo with your Android device's camera and stick it into a document or presentation slide you are editing. Has a unified looking toolbar in its word processing, spreadsheet and presentation apps for conveniently accessing formatting functions.

Cut-and-paste UI: Double-tap on text to highlight it -- toolbar then automatically opens above or below it listing choices for editing.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Successfully loaded all Office documents we tested on it (in .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .xls and .xlsx formats).

Conclusion: Good compatibility with Microsoft Office document formats, ability to load your documents from several cloud storage services, intuitive cutting-and-pasting, and a unified toolbar interface across its three main office apps make this worth serious consideration. But it's pricey compared to the next choices in this article that have better or more features.

2. Smart Office+ ($9.36)

|Android Market Page

Main features: View, edit and create text and spreadsheet documents, and slide-show presentations. View PDF files.

Cloud storage: Can load your documents stored on Dropbox and Google Docs.

Notable extras: Eye-candy UI shows thumbnails of the pages of your text document, or sheets of your spreadsheet, in a carousel-style display. Swiping through pages or sheets is smooth and fast.

You can snap a photo with your Android device's camera and insert it into a text document.

Cut-and-paste UI: Double-tap on text to highlight. Toolbar opens along the bottom of the screen with editing functions. To drag and move the text, tap and drag a hand icon which is connected to the highlighted text.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Successfully loaded all Office documents we tested on it.

Conclusion: The word processing app lacks many formatting functions that are available in the other office suites we evaluated. However, the hand-icon dragging user interface is unique among them as a way to move objects in your documents. We liked it for moving text (as well as images) when using a tablet.

1. ThinkFree Office Mobile ($9.99)

|Android Market Page

Main features: View, edit and create text and spreadsheet documents, and slideshow presentations. View PDF files. Designed for use on Android tablets.

Cloud storage: Can access files in your Google Docs account. Additionally, the company behind it, Hancom, gives you 2GB of storage for free on its own servers to use with its office suite.

Notable extras: Drawing tool lets you sketch freehand with the ability to adjust line width, line color, and background fill colors. Comes with a set of 64 preset shapes. Lets you snap a photo with your device's camera. Photos and drawings can be pasted into your text document, spreadsheet, or presentation slide.

Cut-and-paste UI: Double-tap text to highlight, and a menu of editing choices pops open. Everything is done by directly tapping on the text in question, and not needing to go through toolbars or the Android device's Menu button.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Successfully loaded all Office documents we used to test the office suites for this slideshow.

Conclusion: Because of its wide set of options for creating images from scratch, this office suite is great for building slideshow presentations, particularly when using its drawing tool on a tablet. Good compatibility with Microsoft Office documents and a cheap price also help to make ThinkFree Office Mobile the best overall value for Android tablet owners.

Wen is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howardwen@gmail.com.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

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Howard Wen

Network World

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