Quickoffice Document Apps for iOS and Android Now Free, but...

Google updated the Quickoffice suite of Microsoft-Office-compatible tools for iOS and Android, and the apps are now free. Unfortunately, you have to use Google's Drive cloud-storage, and you can't access Dropbox, Box or any other cloud services.

Even when a mobile app is free, there’s usually a price. Google’s revised Quickoffice apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, now free, are no exception.

Quickoffice Google app

(Screen shot: Quickoffice)

Quickoffice is a Microsoft Office-compatible document suite for creating and editing text files, spreadsheets and presentations on iOS and Android. Google acquired the app developer in June 2012. The Quickoffice app was initially free, but it required users to have a paid Google Apps for Business account. The Quickoffice apps for iOS and Android smartphones used to cost $15, but they didn’t require a paid Google Apps account. Tablet-only iOS and Android versions cost $20.

Now all versions of Quickoffice are free, and you don't have to pay for Google apps. You do need a Google account and Google Drive, however, but both services are free.

So where’s the hidden price tag? The Quickoffice apps only let you access documents stored in Google Drive, Google’s document collaboration/storage service. Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive and other cloud-storage services are not supported.

Before Google acquired Quickoffice, the Pro version let you use all of the major cloud-storage players, plus a few you wouldn’t have expected. (Read, “Quickoffice for Android Tablets: Productivity with a Touch of Pain” for details.)

Removing access to these services, for me, is a deal killer. I occasionally use Google Apps. But Dropbox is my go-to cloud-storage provider because it’s reliable, it works with a lot of third-party apps, I don’t have to convert files to edit them (as I do with Google Docs), and it’s dead simple.

The new, free Quickoffice has its benefits, such as support for Track Changes in text files. But it doesn’t feel complete. For instance, when I open a Google Drive spreadsheet in Quickoffice on my iPad, I can only view it in that app. To make edits, I need the separate, free Google Drive app. When I open the same spreadsheet on my Android smartphone, it opens as a PDF, with no mention of the Google Drive app. Why can’t I edit spreadsheets in the Quickoffice app?

Perhaps the best news: If you sign into your Google account from the new Quickoffice iOS or Android app by Sept. 26, you get an extra 10GB of Google Drive storage space. Unfortunately the free space disappears after two years unless, of course, you pay for it.

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