WatchDox iOS, Android Apps Let You Securely Edit Office Docs

Recent updates to the WatchDox mobile apps let you securely edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your Android and iOS devices. The apps work well, according to CIO.com blogger James A. Martin, but they're not the only options for secure mobile editing.

It's not difficult to download Microsoft Office documents to your Android or iOS mobile device for editing. One option is to keep files in your Dropbox, access them using the Dropbox app, and then edit in Office-compatible apps.

But some cloud-syncing/sharing services, especially those aimed at consumers, raise security concerns. And if you work in a heavily regulated industry, poor document security is something you can’t afford.

To that end, WatchDox recently released a new feature for its mobile Android and iOS apps, Mobile Editor, that aims to bring top-notch security to mobile editing.

WatchDox is an enterprise-level document sharing/collaboration platform that costs $15 a month per user (for the standard version) or more (for the enterprise version). Mobile Editor, as the name suggests, lets you edit files uploaded to your WatchDox workspace (using WatchDox on your computer) or shared by another WatchDox user.

In my tests, editing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files was easy to do within WatchDox’s Mobile Editor. You can add yellow highlights to documents; use a drawing tool; and add comments. An eraser tool lets you easily remove highlights and drawings. Edited files are automatically synced to your WatchDox workspace when you save them. You can’t currently create new Office files using the WatchDox app, however.

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(Image: WatchDox)

You can also share WatchDox files with collaborators without paying for a premium WatchDox account, so they can edit or comment on documents at no charge. (The WatchDox app is free.) This is probably one of the most important features of Mobile Editor, because it allows you to work with outside collaborators within a secure environment.

Speaking of security, WatchDox works with password-based, multi-factor, or single sign-on authentication schemes, which can be integrated with WatchDox via the OAuth 2.0 protocol. "Every authentication event is monitored and logged," according to WatchDox. For more about WatchDox document security, download the company’s February 2013 white paper.

WatchDox says it has the "most comprehensive offering out there" for managing and editing Office files securely on mobile devices, without requiring an additional fee for that feature. But it isn’t the only offering that enables secure document editing on mobile devices. Another option is ShareFile, a free app from Citrix that enables document editing on iOS devices. ShareFile can ensure that enterprise authentication and data retention policies are adhered to, according to a 2013 Citrix blog post.

WatchDox looks like a good choice for companies that need to maintain control over documents while still enabling easy mobile collaboration. The company offers a free trial of WatchDox Standard, too.  

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