by James A. Martin

Quickoffice for Android Tablets: Productivity with a Touch of Pain

Feb 16, 20124 mins
Microsoft OfficeOffice SuitesTablets

Quickoffice Pro HD lets you create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablets—but not without a few compromises.

If you truly need to get lots of work done on the go and you work primarily in Microsoft Office apps, Quickoffice Pro HD for Android tablets isn’t for you.

An Android tablet probably isn’t for you, either. Neither is an iPad, for that matter. In fact, I’ve yet to use a mobile productivity app that didn’t force me to make compromises I’d never have to make using full-blown software on a notebook.

Okay, now that I’ve put that out there, we can move on to what I like about Quickoffice Pro HD for Android, from developer Quickoffice, Inc. And there’s a lot to like. (I tested version 5.0.312 of Quickoffice Pro HD for Android Honeycomb tablets, which costs $20. Quickoffice Pro HD is also available for the iPad for $20. The smartphone versions for Android and iOS, called simply Quickoffice Pro, cost $15 each.)

Quickoffice Pro HD has an excellent interface. A number of basic file management tasks are handled via drag and drop, for example. Want to delete a file? Drag it to the trash can icon. Need to email the document? Plop it on top of the email icon. And so on.

When creating new files, you have the flexibility to choose between the 2010, 2007, and 97-2003 formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It’s easy to edit files you’ve stored in the cloud, too. Quickoffice Pro HD supports the usual cloud-document suspects—Dropbox, SugarSync, box, and Google Docs—as well as a few you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like Catch, Huddle, and Egnyte. You can download files to work on your tablet when offline, then upload the finished versions back to your cloud account. Quickoffice Pro HD also lets you view (but not edit or annotate) PDF files.

Quickoffice Pro HD makes nice use of the tablet screen real estate. The app’s file explorer interface is divided into three panes, so you can see at a glance all of your document sources (such as Dropbox and Google Docs) plus details on the folders and files. I also appreciate the ability to sort files by name, type, size, and date.

You’ll Feel the Pain With PowerPoint

But remember what I said about compromises? For starters, working with PowerPoint files within Quickoffice Pro HD isn’t exactly ideal. If you want to add an image, you must capture it with the tablet’s camera or import it from your tablet’s gallery. You can’t simply import an image file from your Dropbox folder, for instance, and place it in a box on a slide.

Quickoffice Pro HD for Android

There’s also no support for Track Changes in Word files, but this is an issue with other comparable Office-compatible app suites I’ve used (such as Documents To Go Premium for iPad, $17). If you require that feature on a tablet, you’ll need a cloud-based version of Office software such as OnLive Desktop (which I reviewed recently in “Free Microsoft Office Apps on Your iPad”). But because such apps are cloud-based, you can’t work on your files offline.

Also, if you plan to do any prolonged work in Quickoffice Pro HD, I’d recommend pairing your tablet with a physical keyboard. Otherwise, you’re just asking to be frustrated. If it’s a Bluetooth keyboard, however, some pesky flight attendant might force you to turn it off in flight.

Most of Quickoffice Pro HD’s shortcomings have to do with the limitations of tablet interfaces and operating systems compared to the more mature, powerful desktop environment. And I really do like this app. I just wouldn’t want to completely rely on it—or any other mobile productivity app—when away from the office.