Google continues to battle it out with Microsoft and Apple in interesting ways. And that’s good for mobile professionals; it gives road warriors more—sometimes too many—options for on-the-go document editing.
The latest brouhaha in the Google v. Microsoft/Apple war: Quickoffice, a Microsoft-Office compatible document suite that Google acquired in 2012. As of yesterday, new versions of Quickoffice are now available for iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. But that’s just the beginning of the story.
1. Five Different Versions. Along with Quickoffice Pro HD for iPad ($20), there’s Quickoffice Pro for iPhone and iPod touch ($15) and the new Quickoffice for iPhone, iPod touch, also optimized for iPads. This last app is free but it requires a Google Apps for Business subscription ($50/year).
For Android, there’s Quickoffice Pro for phones ($15) and Quickoffice Pro HD for tablets ($20). Bottom line: The Pro versions enable you to work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without being a Google Apps for Business subscriber and the HD versions are optimized for tablets.
2. Google is Upping Its Ante with Microsoft. Quickoffice integrates with Google Drive and by extension Google’s text, spreadsheet and presentation cloud apps. But you don’t have to be a Google Apps for Business user to take advantage of the Quickoffice/Google-Drive integration.
In other words, Google is extending its Office-killer software to iOS and Android. Meanwhile, Microsoft only offers Office for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 apps; so far, the company has not released native iOS or Android apps, which is unfortunate because the vast majority of mobile users would love to use Office on their devices. Rumors suggest we may see such apps one day, but it's unclear when.
3. Google Just Says No to Apple. By releasing a free version of Quickoffice for iOS, Google doesn’t have to pay Apple’s 30 percent cut of app prices. Of course, Google does have to pay Apple’s standard 30 percent tax on the Quickoffice Pro and Quickoffice Pro HD apps for iOS it sells in iTunes. Even so, the free Quickoffice app is a way for Google to get market share on iOS devices without having to put money into Apple’s pockets.
If and when Microsoft releases native Office apps for iOS, the company will probably follow the same path as Google; Microsoft will likely offer native Office apps on iOS and Android for free but require a paid Office 365 subscription to do any meaningful editing work in those apps.
Ultimately, choice is good for anyone who has to create or edit files on mobile devices. As for Quickoffice, it’s a highly capable Office-editing suite. If you use Google Drive or Google Apps for Business, it’s a slam dunk. But I still prefer Office² HD for iPads, which costs only $8 and is loaded with valuable features.