Dallas-based Quickoffice has released the first iPhone application suite that lets you view and edit Microsoft Office documents. Available for $19.99 from the App Store, it includes its own versions of Word and Excel it calls Quickword and Quicksheets, as well as file-management services. It also offers a web-based interface so you can transfer documents to and from the device. The application is a renamed and upgraded version of what was previously called MobileFiles Pro and allowed editing of Excel files only.
This release moves Quickoffice into a space where several other players are already active, although none of them have delivered offerings for the iPhone yet. DataViz produces Documents to Go for the Palm OS and Windows Mobile platforms, and Microsoft itself includes Office Mobile (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) by default with the Windows Mobile OS.
The iPhone platform already includes viewers for Word and Excel documents, but it doesn’t let you edit those documents. With Apple attempting to attract the business set as of late, functionality like this is something that’s desperately needed. Microsoft has indicated it might be developing an Office version for the device soon, but it’s unclear when that may come out.
The Quickoffice offering includes cut, copy, and paste functionality as well as formatting options within Quickword and about 125 different functions and formulas in Quicksheets. While I wouldn’t spend time creating entire Office documents right from the iPhone, the feature set is robust enough to at least make it possible to edit preexisting documents.
Getting documents onto the iPhone is fairly easy with the application’s WiFi Desktop Connection tool and integrated MobileMe support. The former turns the iPhone into a mini-web server that lets you upload and download documents on the device, while you can take advantage of the latter by adding MobileMe as a document source in the application’s initial screen. Once done, you have access to any document on your iDisk.
Of the two applications, Quickword seems to work the best. Rendering of documents is quick and painless. The cut and pasting takes a bit of getting used to, but works pretty easily. The various functions are arranged across the bottom bar — fonts, bulleting, keyboard, cut and paste, and undo/redo.
Quicksheet is similar, although you may find it slower to render when surfing around the document. Options this time are slightly different, and no cut and paste is offered: they include font properties, number formatting, sheet selection, column insertion and deletion, and undo/redo. Even without cut and paste, you can still select multiple cells to create ranges.
Quickoffice is working on new features especially in the file management space, including mounting the iPhone/iTouch as a wireless disk drive via WiFi, dragging and dropping files between devices via WiFi, and e-mailing remote or local files without having to download them.
Both applications can read Office documents from Office 97 through 2007. However, Office 2007 can only be read; no editing of these documents is available as of yet.
There are several annoying shortcomings to the suite. One is the fact that you can’t open document files straight from e-mail. Another is that predictive text input is currently non-functional, and that’s a hassle especially for the fat-fingered among us.
Despite these issues — I’d certainly recommend it for anyone who needs a mobile productivity suite on the iPhone.
However, the company seems to have its detractors. This thread on MacRumors includes several customers of its previous version of the software, who claim Quickoffice took advantage of them by renaming the software and tripling the cost of “what should have been a free update.”
MobileFiles Pro was the first application from Quickoffice to introduce spreadsheet editing, but it also contained the file management services I mentioned earlier. In late March, the company introduced roughly the same application under the name Quicksheets and stopped selling MobileFiles Pro, cutting off those users. The file management services were also cut out and introduced as QuickFiles Pro. This application suite is the combination of those two applications plus word processing functionality.
Some disgruntled users have threatened to wait for competitor DataViz’s Documents to Go to release its own productivity suite next month.
Quickoffice would not disclose full funding details. However, it did disclose last May that it had raised $3 million to help with expansion efforts.