If you want to do more with your iPad than surf the web, play games and watch video, these five iPad office suites will help you be more productive. They range in price and capability and everyone can find a tool that will meet either moderately complicated needs or very basic and simple uses.
Apple iWork Apps
iWork technically isn’t a full suite but three individual app. They include Pages ($9.99), which is a word processor and even limited desktop publisher; Numbers ($9.99), a spreadsheet with some advanced calculations and the ability to create charts/graphs and Keynote ($9.99) for making or creating presentation with nice templates, attractive transitions and the ability to play media files.
The iWork interfaces are the most attractive of all of these. With the integration of iCloud, it’s now easier to move docs in and out of the apps. Apple’s Open In… feature works too if you use DropBox or SugarSync apps.
The three apps look nice and have all the features I need for creating content on my iPad or in the case of Keynote, doing presentations. If you only need one of the apps you can save some money over some of these other suites. However, combined the three apps will be the most expensive “suite” here. I think they are worth the extra cost.
Using AirPlay to make presentations on my Apple TV makes iWork an obvious choice. For word processing and limited desktop publishing, Pages wins out although Quickoffice HD comes in a close second.
All three iWork apps handle Microsoft Office files well. Of course you can work with the iWork desktop file formats too.
If you don’t want to pay $30 for a suite, then the best alternatives include those below.
Quickoffice Pro HD
Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99) might make a great option, if you don’t use iCloud, AirPlay or just want to save $10. The spreadsheet tool has plenty of features and word processor is acceptable, if you don’t insert images or graphics.
Even if the word processor is limited, the spreadsheet and presentation feature in Quickoffice Pro HD measures up nicely to Numbers and Keynote. It integrates with the following cloud services:
- Google Docs
- MobileMe (hopefully this will be replaced by iCloud soon)
In addition, you can drag a file to the sharing toolbar buttons to email your document or post it via the following:
Quickoffice HD’s file management features rank first of all of these app, including the iWork apps. It saves in Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007 format and can open Office 2010 or 2011 for Mac files.
Documents To Go Premium
Documents To Go Premium ($16.99) includes tight integration with online services and has a simple interface with plenty of the basic formatting tools. Unfortunately, the presentation app in Documents to Go doesn’t make nice presentations. It works with PowerPoint files, but you don’t want to use it to create presentations. You also cannot insert graphics or images into your word processing documents. The spreadsheet has all the basic formulas you need.
Due to the weak presentation creation features, save a little money and get the cheaper version ($9.99) that doesn’t allow for presentation editing. You can still view PowerPoint files created on a computer.
Documents To Go handles all formats of Office files and integrates well will the following:
- Google Docs
Office HD ($7.99) is the poor man’s Documents To Go, meaning it has decent editing features and useful file management tools, however, it costs half as much.
The interface is not as intuitive as the others. You can miss half the features because the toolbar doesn’t show all of the buttons until you swipe to slide the toolbar to the left revealing things like bullets, numbering, tables, image insertion, etc. When you realize this you learn that Office HD has more than meets the eye at a great price.
The app handles all Microsoft Office files. You can only get them off the iPad via your web browser using a special IP address when the iPad and your computer both connect to the same network or when hooked up via USB. You can get documents into Office HD via the Open In… feature, so do something like email your document or open it via one of the cloud tools like DropBox or SugarSync.
Documents 2 ($1.99) cost less than any of the other apps, so I included it for bargain hunters. I was a bit nervous when I first launched it and found a typo in the welcome screen (see second to last line in image right). I’ve released quite a few of those onto the web via this blog, so I’m not going to be too critical. But surely they have been informed of this before now.
The only way to get documents into the app is through Wi-Fi transfer via your web browser or through Google Docs, which might be fine for some users. Unfortunately, after downloading a Word 2011 file Documents 2 converted it to a PDF file instead of leaving it in Word docx format. I couldn’t edit the document.
Only use this app if you want a cheap text editor, spreadsheet tool or presentation app. It works for extremely simple tasks at a great price.
Spend $30 for the iWork suite of apps or $20 for Quickoffice HD. Those two lead the way in this round-up with the best set of features and the most attractive interfaces. Along with Documents To Go, they are easiest to use when moving files on and off the iPad thanks to their integration with cloud services.