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Office App Comparison

Discussion in 'Apple iPad Polls' started by RedCoil, Jun 29, 2011.

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Which office app do you think is the best?

  1. Documents to Go

    9 vote(s)
    27.3%
  2. iWork

    19 vote(s)
    57.6%
  3. Quick Office

    5 vote(s)
    15.2%
  1. RedCoil
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    RedCoil iPF Novice

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    Hello iPad Forums!

    I’ve been lurking on here for a while getting info about my iPad. I figured why not make my first post some useful information. I browsed this forum for quite a while trying to get information regarding the various office apps available for the iPad. However, about all I found was some single paragraph overviews of each of the apps. So I ended up purchasing several in order to find the one that fit my needs.

    Hoping to save fellow iPad owners some money I decided to write up a detailed comparison of these apps. I got the idea to load files with lots of different formatting and features into each of the apps and compare the results from a thread on the xda forums doing the same thing for the Honeycomb office apps. I didn’t see anything similar on these forums so here goes.

    Starting with word processing:

    Here’s the MS Word 2010 document I used:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Docs2Go did the best job of rendering all the different fonts and had the greatest selection of them to choose from. It displayed pasted images but couldn’t render embedded graphs. It did a good job with the table as well, though it set all the rows to a single common size.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    QuickOffice has the fewest fonts and is the only one that couldn’t display subscripts and superscripts. It did ok at rendering graphics, like D2G it couldn’t show the embedded graph, but it could show the images. QO was the only one that got the sizing of the table’s rows somewhat right.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Pages tells you right as you load a document what formatting it isn’t able to display. Its selection of fonts is the smaller than Docs2Go, but it has most of the major ones. Pages was able to display all the graphics, but did the worst job on the table. This is the only one with a spellcheck and was able to spot typos in the document.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I opened several other documents including old papers and lab reports, with all three and the results were mostly the same as above. I would say if you’re going to edit and revise existing documents Docs2Go would be your best bet due to how well it displays content and preserves formatting even if it can’t display it. If you want to create a lot of documents, Pages would be my recommendation. It is loaded with templates, has spell check and can export in both iWork and MS Office formats.





    As for spreadsheets, here is the MS Excel 2010 file I used as a template:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Docs2Go was able to show cell formatting and alignment correctly. That’s about it. D2G has a menu you have to open to switch between sheets rather than tabs. It can’t display graphics of any kind (I didn’t attach the first page because it was blank) and it gets formatting of tables wrong too. D2G does manage to get formulas right though.
    [​IMG]


    QuickOffice also fails to load any graphs or charts. It does have tabs for switching between sheets quickly though. When I loaded other spreadsheets where the numbers in a cell are too long QO simply displays a bunch of XXs rather than round the number off. It also has trouble loading large spreadsheets, but I couldn’t find any info on what the cut off is for files to be too big.
    [​IMG]


    Numbers is able to show all the graphs and charts. It converted the 3D ones to 2D. For some reason Numbers places the keys to charts outside of the chart’s outline. Not a huge problem, I just thought it was odd. Not only can Numbers show graphs it can even edit and manipulate them. It gets cell formatting and tables right as well. It gets formulas right too. Data analysis effects like error bars and trendlines are lost though.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Numbers is the clear winner in my mind. The fact that QuickOffice and Docs2Go can’t display graphs or charts is mind boggling. That’s such a central part of what Excel is used for. It’s even stranger because I know that these apps are able to display these features in their versions on other platforms.





    Finally, presentation software. I used this MS PowerPoint 2010 file as a template:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Docs2Go shows most of the content on the slides. Oddly some of the fonts that its Word app showed are missing from the PowerPoint one. Graphs show up here, although they are a bit distorted. D2G has a huge shortcoming here though. It can’t display a slideshow. Which is the entire purpose of PowerPoint if I’m not mistaken. Edit: The 9/1/11 update added a fullscreen display mode. It's not a true slideshow, but it could be used to give a presentation in a pinch.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    QuickOffice misses most of the fonts. It also converts bullets it doesn’t recognize into dots. It can display pictures but not embedded graphs. QO has a neat feature in its slideshow mode. When you put your finger on the screen a red dot appears, so you can point to things as you give the presentation. As with its Excel app, QO can’t open large files.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Keynote converts unknown bullets like QO, but does a better job with fonts. It does the best job of displaying graphs and figures. It can do slideshows as well. It has the same laser dot feature as QO and also a timer to show the elapsed time of the presentation.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I loaded several presentations and slide shows I had. D2G and Keynote seemed to have trouble with ones that had fancier backgrounds, QO just ignored backgrounds it couldn’t figure out. QO had trouble rendering slides with a lot of text, it would just run off the top and bottom. D2G does a good job of showing this type of stuff as well as keeping text and figures arranged correctly. Keynote had the largest selection of templates and slide styles available by a large margin. If I were creating or giving a presentation I would go with Keynote. To edit existing PowerPoint files D2G would be my choice.




    Additional Info:

    Price: iWork is $10 per app (so $30 for the set), but I would say this is a rare case where Apple’s higher cost isn’t just shameless price gouging. iWork is far more capable than its third party competitors, especially if you’re planning to be creating a lot of documents. Docs2Go has two versions: a $10 dollar standard version with less features, the $17 full version adds PowerPoint editing, PDF viewing and cloud support. QuickOffice just increased their price to $25 from $15. This puts it at nearly the same price as the vastly superior iWork set, or more expensive if you only need one or two parts.

    Interface: iWork’s interface is simple and easy to use. There is a top bar with some basic functions that stays in place. When you select an object or start typing more detailed onscreen controls appear. QuickOffice has a more static interface. Everything is in the top bar and various menus can be opened to change settings. Docs2Go has the simplest interface. It’s merely a row of icons on the bottom bar that open pop ups with various settings.

    Cloud storage: This is the Achilles Heel of iWork. It has no cloud support other than iDisk. Docs2Go supports Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk and SugarSync. QuickOffice supports Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, iDisk, SugarSync, Catch, Huddle and Evernote. It can also publish files through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Scribd, Slideshare, Yammer and Docstoc. QO has a fantastic cloud interface as well. It can show multiple folders at once, add new folders and supports drag and drop. QO actually does a better job of organizing my Dropbox account than the Dropbox app does.

    File formats: iWork can open iWork, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt and pptx formats, it can create/export in iWork, doc, xls and ppt only. Docs2Go can do the same minus the iWork format. QuickOffice can actually create new documents in the docx and xlsx formats, but not pptx.

    Printing: iWork and QuickOffice support AirPrint, however Docs2Go does not.

    I’m sure there are plenty of functions and features I didn’t mention. If there is something specific you’re looking for in the apps let me know what it is and I’ll see how they handle it.

    Closing thoughts: I personally find the iWork suite to be the best. It's the one of the three I find myself using almost entirely. Given its tremendous capabilities (for a mobile app) and its ease of use its pretty hard to beat. If that price is too high though D2G is a good alternative as far as bang for your buck. The standard version offers a good range of features at a fairly low cost and you can upgrade to the premium version by paying the difference later if you like. Also, it has a nice desktop app that allows you to sync files over wifi. The "InTact" feature does a good job of preserving formatting the app doesn't support. In my opinion QuickOffice priced itself out of viability now. In terms of features its roughly on par with D2G, but costs as much as iWork. My personal recommendation would be that if you want to use the iPad as a serious productivity tool or will be working on just one type of file, iWork is the way to go. If you just want to make occasional edits to files, or don't want to spend much, I would recommend Docs2Go.

    Edited 9/12/11 to add info on recent updates and price changes. Added sections on file formats, printing and my own overview. Added a poll.
    Edited 10/14/11. I have sold my iPad, so I won't be able to provide anymore updates on new features or improvements to these apps.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
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  2. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Excellent comparison - many thanks for posting. I will refer Members to this who ask about Office apps.

    Tim
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  3. DrHouse
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    DrHouse iPad Junkie

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    What a nice review. You just confirmed my choice to go with Pages... Thanks for sharing

    VicoPad addict!
  4. Rog
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    Rog iPad Fan

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    Anyone tried office 365 from Microsoft?
  5. OUTL4W
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    OUTL4W iPad Addict

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    Yeah....but it's web based apps and there is a subscription fee....last time I checked...
  6. Leebel
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    Leebel iPF Novice

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    Thank you for an excellent comparison. I bought docs2go and find it barely ok. Amazing that I could not delete non PDF files in my dropbox! Had to use dropbox app! Crazy.

    Fully agree with keynote as a winner! I bought and have used it extensively. Simple and effective. It accepts my ppt 2010 files and does a nice job on them but loses transitions, but that is ok.

    I'm currently looking for an app that will take an excel or csv file and create some reasonable graphs. Can't see anything that will do it other than Numbers
  7. RedCoil
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    RedCoil iPF Novice

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    Numbers is about it if you want to create graphs. Its graph making is pretty crude, but it let's you create some basic ones.

    Sent from my iPad 2 using iPF
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  8. Leebel
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    Leebel iPF Novice

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    I bought Numbers and gave it a try. Imported my xlsx file nicely and did a graph on one column which was ok, but couldn't see how to use say column 1 (=x) vs column 3 (=y). Easy to use adjacent columns. Probably need to experiment more as the 'manual' is very basic.
  9. sunny day
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    sunny day iPF Novice

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    I too bought Numbers. I brought in an Excel spreadsheet that already had graphs in it. I needed to change the data ranges and somehow I got data chosen I don't want. Now I can't get rid of it. I've tried what the help says, but never get the delete option. Can anyone help?
  10. tdmsu
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    tdmsu iPad Fan

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    Thanks for this great comparison!
    I am happy with iwork, but I now have an appreciation for the other options, too.
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  11. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    The OP will get his reward in heaven for such an excellent and thorough comparison. Thanks so much.

    Unless I missed it (and I scanned the review only briefly), the only aspect of the review that I would like to see added involves importing the three Apple apps into their Microsoft Office counterparts.

    Since it's clear from the review that Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are superior to the simulated Office alternatives for working with Office documents, the question arises as to whether iPad created documents are fully compatible with the Office applications. I mention this mainly because it's my impression that the iPad versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote have reduced functionality compared to the versions Apple sells for their "real" computers. That in turn suggests that Msoft Office might react somewhat differently to documents created with those applications on the iPad.
  12. donka
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    donka iPad Junkie

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    From everything I have read, I believe if you create the document from scratch on the iPad in Pages or the others, then it will open up just fine in MS Office without issue. It seems if the doc is not created in Pages on the iPad for example but edited there, it may have compatibility issues. The same goes for a doc started in MS Office then pulled into Pages, the more complex the doc, the more likely to have issues.
    I do stand to be corrected though as I don't actually have these apps.
  13. RedCoil
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    RedCoil iPF Novice

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    If a document is created iWork and imported to MS Office it will work ok. Office 2010 will give a warning a out it being unsafe and put it in read only mode. But that's about it. Charts and tables will need to be tweaked a bit to look right as well. I think iWork has trouble converting that stuff to the MS Office format. Overall though, there wont be any destructive changes exporting to Office.

    Keep in mind there will always be minor formatting hiccups going between Office and iWork as it is two different file formats.

    Sent from my iPad 2 using iPF
  14. yianniskyr
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    yianniskyr iPF Novice

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    pages is very good but i want to put down for example color letters. i dont think this can be done and i believe if future upgrade apple will consider this.
  15. Bimjo
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    Bimjo iPF Novice

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    Wow, that was a lot of work! Thanks for the effort.

    This should be a sticky post. :)
  16. RedCoil
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    RedCoil iPF Novice

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    Pages can do colored text actually. Highlight a section of text and click in the "i" icon. At the bottom of the menu there is an additional text options menu and color is in there.
  17. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    There is no problem with coloured letters in Pages. Go to 'Styles' and 'Text Options' and choose any colour you want.

    Tim
  18. yianniskyr
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    yianniskyr iPF Novice

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    thank you .you save me
  19. cgreed87
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    cgreed87 iPF Noob

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    Great Post!

    This post was exactly what I was looking for on the forum, as I just purchased an iPad and need to use it when I'm on the road for business purposes.

    Does anyone know of an app that locks your files or your iPad with high levels of security? I access confidential documents regularly, and need to ensure that they are not easily accessible.

    THANK YOU FOR THE POST... this helped me a ton.
  20. Gabriel1
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    Gabriel1 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The most secure way would be not to have them on your iPad at all, as long as you have a connection you could use an RDP app to access the confidential documents remotely.

    The Archangel
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