Quickoffice Packs Power in a Small Space

Connect Mobile Suite provides useful functionality in file transfer and editing.

Mobility can be a wonderful thing, until one has work to do, and doesn't have the right tools. At least today, the question of file formats pretty much boils down to "old Office or new?"-referring, in turn, to the classic binary Office formats, and the Office OpenXML formats that debuted in Office 2007, and for Mac users, in Office 2008. Although many tools exist that work with the binary Office formats, finding something that works with both binary and OpenXML documents is another matter altogether. That's where Quickoffice shines, thanks to an array of mobile services and software for all major mobile platforms.

Quickoffice's office mobility applicationss are available in three versions: the full-blown Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, Quickoffice Mobile Suite and Quickoffice Connect. The last of that group simply offers remote file access, and some file-viewing capabilities, but makes up for its limited feature set by being a free download; it is only available for iPhone and iPod touch among the iOS platforms. Quickoffice Mobile Suite, which is also available only for the small-form-factor iOS devices, adds editing capabilities to its repertoire and costs $4.99. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, on the other hand, is available for both iPad and the smaller iOS devices, and for $9.99, one gets advanced editing capabilities and access to cloud-storage providers, including Apple's MobileMe service, Dropbox and Google Docs.

Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, which I tested on both iPad and iPhone, allows users to transfer files via WiFi, or to mount an iOS device as a drive over a WiFi link. The versions I used (1.1.0 for iPad and 3.3.0 for iPhone) became available before Apple released iOS 4.2.1 in late November, and therefore did not support the AirPrint wireless printing feature of the iOS update. I would be surprised if that functionality were anything but No. 1 on Quickoffice's priority list for feature enhancements.

The suite's Quickword component allows users to perform a significant range of frequently used operations on an existing or new Word document. Text can be formatted, made bold or italic, or underlined in a range of font sizes. It automatically wraps text to reduce the need for scrolling left or right, will count the number of words in a document, and works with bulleted and numbered lists and paragraphs to adjust the indent level when desired. Automatic save and restore functions will give most users confidence that their changes are incorporated in a document, but only when that's the preferred outcome.

The Quicksheet spreadsheet editor has similar tools for adjusting the appearance of the data in a file, and includes an advanced calculation engine that allows the dynamic updating of data as cells, columns, rows and ranges are copied, deleted, pasted or otherwise edited. It allows users to search for text in a worksheet or to add, rename, delete and reorder individual worksheets within the current spreadsheet.

I found Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite to be responsive when performing what I consider "bread and butter" edits to word processing and spreadsheet files. Unlike the iWork for iPad applications, which Apple sells separately, all of the Quickoffice functions are in a single application. Making it even more attractive, the suite works well on iPhone, whereas iWork applications are restricted to the large-format iPad. After spending almost a week with Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, I didn't find anything to dislike about it.