A few months ago I wrote about the SoftMaker’s Office Suite for Android and how the document-editing app, TextMaker, provided a feature missing from every other Office suite for Android and iPad: true Track Changes functionality. While most people hope that Microsoft Office for iPad will solve this problem on iOS, SoftMaker has so far offered the only real solution for Android.
Back when I first took a look at TextMaker the app was still in private beta, but last week SoftMaker announced a public beta on their website. Now anyone who wants to try Office Mobile, which includes TextMaker, PlanMaker (spreadsheets), and SoftMaker Presentations, can sign up for the beta program. Once you do you’ll get a license key and links to the downloads.
Since this is beta software it will have some bugs — I notice that it tends to force close when overloaded. There’s a user forum for reporting any issues you encounter. Just remember to save often.
TextMaker looks very similar to the beta version I used last fall. I did notice one major change, and that’s in the Reviewing toolbar. In addition to the Track Changes functions, which include moving from change to change, accepting and rejecting changes, plus keeping track of new ones, there are more robust Comment tools as well.
You can now navigate from comment to comment, just like changes. When scrolling through a document, text highlighted in red indicates where comments exist, and you can view them by tapping.
This is a feature many tablet power users are clamoring for. Especially lawyers, writers, editors and anyone else who spends a lot of time collaborating on and editing documents. None of the other major office suites offer it, though I’ve seen plenty of forum threads and support requests for QuickOffice, Documents To Go, and Pages requesting it. SoftMaker may sweep them all to the side.
Currently, the company only has plans for Android. Sorry, no iPad version on the horizon, Apple fans. It will also sync with the SoftMaker Office Suite for Windows and Linux, if you’re interested in a Microsoft alternative.