by James A. Martin

Edit Microsoft Office Docs via iPhone with Free CloudOn App

Jan 16, 20132 mins

CloudOn is a free app that puts a virtual-Office suite on your iPad, and the latest version also supports the iPhone. Unfortunately, a few key Office features aren't available in CloudOn.

CloudOn, my preferred app for getting the full Microsoft Office suite on iPad tablets, just got even better. CloudOn version 3.0, released last month, now supports the iPhone and Microsoft’s SkyDrive file-storage service.

Whether you actually want to edit Office files on an iPhone is another matter, of course.

CloudOn is one of several apps that serve up a virtual-Office desktop environment to tablets, and the app is free. (Read my post on the topic, “3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office on Your iPad, Android Tablet,” for more information.) CloudOn’s support for the iPhone makes sense, to a degree. Using CloudOn you can access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files stored in your Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and SkyDrive accounts, or you can create new files to store in those accounts.

CloudOn iPhone

Once you open a file, some (but not all) Office features are available. For example, with a Word file, you can copy and paste text; change font and paragraph formatting; insert page numbers, headers, footers, tables and objects; view tracked changes from others and turn on Track Changes yourself; view and add comments; run spell checker; get a word count; and more.

One potentially cool trick: Using the iPhone’s built-in voice recorder you can dictate text into a Word file instead of typing it. For whatever reason, though, the text I dictated came out in all capital letters, even though the text I typed didn’t.

Some Word features are missing, including the ability to save a file as a PDF or other format. And you can’t view documents in landscape mode; CloudOn supports portrait mode only. That’s a shame, because landscape mode would make typing a little easier and could reduce scrolling, especially in Excel documents. Also, keep in mind you need an online connection to access files—something you may not have on an airplane or in other environments with weak wireless signals.

Gripes aside, CloudOn is an extremely useful service for mobile professionals who need to edit Office documents. And iPhone support makes it even effective for quick, on-th-go edits.