Hoping to steal some of the recent thunder surrounding Microsoft Office on the iPad, Quickoffice launched Quickoffice ProSelect HD this week, an iPad and iPhone app tuned for the enterprise.
Quickoffice delivers various versions of a slim-downed mobile version of Microsoft Office: Quickoffice Lite, Quickoffice, Quickoffice Pro, and now Quickoffice ProSelect. The latest entrant costs $30 via Apple’s volume purchasing program.
Quickoffice ProSelect comes amidst a spate of recent Office-on-the-iPad news and speculation.
Late last month, OnLive unleashed a more complete version of its virtual Windows apps offering. Called OnLive Desktop Plus, the $4.99 per month service delivers hosted desktop versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader on the iPad.
Virtualization desktop infrastructure giant Citrix quickly pointed out that OnLive was not complying with Microsoft licensing rules. Microsoft’s top licensing cop, Joe Martz, wrote in his blog: “We are actively engaged with OnLive with the hope of bringing them into a properly licensed scenario, and we are committed to seeing this issue resolved.”
Microsoft is stirring up Office-on-the-iPad news in other ways, too. Last month, Microsoft and “The Daily” were embroiled in a finger-pointing controversy. “The Daily” reported that someone from Microsoft gave a demo of an unannounced product, Microsoft Office for the iPad, and ran an accompanying photo. Microsoft quickly, albeit half-heartedly, refuted “The Daily’s” claims.
Enter Quickoffice ProSelect. Aimed at business users, the app has two new features: native iOS file encryption and support for iOS native email.
Lacking native iOS file encryption, data on a jailbroken iPhone will be unsecure. Hence the need for native iOS file encryption. While it’s available to all app developers, “very few applications in our space have actually done that,” says Mark Beaton, director of product management at Quickoffice. “To my knowledge, iWork doesn’t even support [native iOS file encryption] yet.”
On the email front, Quickoffice Pro supports email through its own gateway. But businesses want to use native iOS email that connects to their Exchange accounts. Quickoffice ProSelect now offers iOS native email.
Also, Quickoffice ProSelect allows for configuration of existing features, mostly around data leakage. Here are explanations of some of them.
Quickoffice has a WiFi-sharing feature that lets a user easily transfer files between an iPad and a computer connected on the same WiFi. In a business setting, this can be a problem. “There’s WiFi throughout the building, and someone can see your IP address, and basically access your iPad files,” Beaton says. “Now enterprises have the option to disable that.”
Cut-copy-paste are absolutely critical features when working within and between Office Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets. Quickoffice ProSelect still supports cut-copy-paste inside the app, but provides the capability to turn off these functions once a user leaves the app. This means, of course, that a user won’t be able to take confidential data and store it in another app or in cloud storage.
On a related note, Quickoffice ProSelect lets companies turn off Apple’s Open-in command that allows for files to be opened in other apps.
Quickoffice ProSelect’s most impressive feature is SaveBack Only to secure where files can go. If a company so chooses, users will be forced to save Quickoffice files back to the original source, say, a Sharepoint access point behind the firewall to corporate servers.
“A user downloads a file using Open-in Quickoffice and edits the file. Then when they go to close [the file], the only option presented to them is SaveBack Only, which returns the file to the original Sharepoint application,” Beaton explains.
With SaveBack and Quickoffice ProSelect, companies have another tool to stop the spread of data leakage.
Tom Kaneshige has been covering business and technology in Silicon Valley for two decades. As senior online writer at CIO.com, Tom covers Silicon Valley culture, BYOD and consumer tech in the enterprise.