Quip revamps mobile word processor with new publishing, search features

Quip 2.0 also has a revamped user interface

Quip has revamped its Web and mobile word processor, giving it new publishing and search capabilities, as the startup pushes ahead with its quixotic pursuit to disrupt cloud productivity app rivals like Microsoft and Google.

Quip is also announcing that the product, launched in mid-2013, is in use at about 5,000 companies, including New Relic, Larry H. Miller and Facebook and the social networking company's Instagram unit.

Facebook, Instagram and New Relic, a software analytics company in San Francisco, have deployed Quip to entire staffs, while Larry H. Miller, a large Utah conglomerate, is using it in its IT department.

"We're announcing significant new features for the product, and also that it's gotten traction in the market," said Quip co-founder Bret Taylor, who previously was Facebook CTO, co-founder of FriendFeed and group product manager at Google, where he co-created Google Maps.

The first new feature lets Quip users share a document via a private URL link with others, who will be able to read the document even if they haven't signed up for Quip. Document authors can establish different levels of access to the document, from only viewing it to having full editing capabilities, along with some intermediate options, like allowing recipients to post comments to the document but not edit the text.

To be able to edit the document, people receiving the link would need to register with Quip, but the process would happen within the document interface when accessing Quip from a desktop Web browser. Those getting the link on their mobile device -- iPhone, iPad or Android -- would need to install the Quip app.

The ability to share Quip documents via a link with people who aren't necessarily signed up for it will help accelerate adoption of the product and make it easier for current users to convince colleagues to start using it, according to Taylor.

This approach further supports the way Quip usually enters organizations, which is a bottom-up process, starting with some users at a department level and then spreading organically to other parts of the company, he said.

The other major enhancement to Quip is the addition of a search engine. It finds query terms in the full text of documents and their comments, and it has been specifically designed to work well on mobile devices.

For example, when users tap on the search box on a mobile device, a special keyboard pops up that includes search operators like "from," "to," "mention" and "in" to simplify the narrowing of queries. The search engine also features query auto-complete and auto-suggest capabilities.

"We tried to not just to build a powerful search engine, but also a great interface for mobile devices," Taylor said.

Quip 2.0 also has revamped navigation that should make it easier to switch between documents and chat threads, and to find frequently used documents. It's also now possible to export any Quip document to Microsoft Word.

Quip has plans to launch spreadsheet and presentation applications later this year, giving it a suite with the three core productivity components.

The desktop browser-based version of Quip works well on Safari, Chrome and Firefox, but it hasn't been optimized yet for Internet Explorer. There are mobile applications for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Quip, which has about 15 employees and raised $15 million in Series A funding, is taking on Microsoft, Google and the many vendors offering office productivity suites for tablets, smartphones and PC browsers, and that promise improved collaboration via cloud computing.

In April, Quip released an API in the hopes that enterprise developers will use it to make the product more useful and versatile in workplaces.

Taylor said Quip is being used by hundreds of thousands of users, who have created millions of documents.

The word processor app is free for up to five users on desktop browsers and iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and it includes the ability to create shared folders. Quip Business costs US$12 per user, per month for unlimited users and includes other features such as shared team workspaces, adding and removing users, and flagging external sharing. Quip Enterprise, whose price must be negotiated with Quip's sales team, adds more IT administration capabilities, such as single sign-on, usage stats and security features.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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