Quickoffice (for Android) review

Pros

  • Supports MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Peerless PowerPoint support
  • Open six documents at once

Cons

  • Only supports Google Drive
  • No collaboration tools
  • Limited editing features

Acquired by Google in 2012, Quickoffice recently became free to all Android users, unleashing a surprisingly well designed and entirely capable mobile office application on the masses. With the best support for PowerPoint documents I've seen in a mobile office suite, along with fast editing for all other Microsoft Office documents, this app is held back only by its limited file format support and still surprisingly uneasy relationship with Google Drive.

Setup

Setting up Quickoffice is a snap: Just download, fire up the app, and choose the Google Account you want Quickoffice to work with. There is no support for other services like Dropbox, Sugarsync, or SkyDrive, unlike Polaris Office, which supports multiple services.

The main screen is split between sources (Google Drive and your device's storage) on the left and a file tree on the right. This is kind of a messy view, made marginally better by a search bar at the top. Unfortunately, search only looks at the title, not the content, of files, but it will simultaneously search both your Drive and your device.

Quickoffice uses clean and consistent icon-based navigation throughout the app. Fonts, colour, paragraph, and other text-related options are in a single dropdown menu connected to the top of the screen. Other specific features, such as cell formatting, will sometimes be added to the main dropdown, or presented as their own features across the top. I liked this arrangement much better than the ribbon-based menus in both Drive and OfficeSuite Pro, though learning all the icons took a while.

Notably, you can also hear the pronunciation of highlighted words, or search for them in Google.

The checkerboard icon holds a feature unique to Quickoffice, though it is somewhat obscure. Instead of opening one document at a time, the checkerboard brings up a menu of up to six open documents, making it easy to move text and images or simply refer back to a source. This is a great feature that I'd love to see integrated into Google Drive, or any other office suite for that matter.

Creating and editing documents

Quickoffice is definitely geared more towards creating than editing. It's easy to throw down some text, images, or what have you in a Word document, but there's no support for tracking changes or adding comments. Google Drive has a tidy comments system (which Quickoffice does not support), though the version control options are only available through the website.

Although it's painfully out of date, Documents To Go 3.0 is the only Android app I've found that lets you see (but not record further) track changes.

The app easily handled Excel documents, honouring existing formatting and mathematical functions. Finding functions is very easy, thanks to a special search option, and cells can be added to existing functions simply by tapping and dragging. I was also impressed to see a complete array of cell formatting options, and the ability to "freeze" rows and columns from scrolling.

While most office apps let you tap and drag to select multiple cells, Quickoffice has a unique selection option. Simply highlight a cell, or group of cells, and then tap the little green ball. This will let you select either rows or columns, but not both at the same time. It's a nifty time saver.

PowerPoint support is where most Office apps fall apart, but Quickoffice handled creating and editing these documents with ease. Adding, resizing, and even rotating pictures was easier with Quickoffice than any other app I've reviewed. It also supports several pre-loaded shapes, and fully editable (squishable, rotatable) text boxes. Quickoffice does not support transitions, which will disappoint fans of ripple-dissolve.

Editing slides was a breeze. You can reorder them by tapping and dragging, and add a new slide by tapping the large plus button. New slides can be in one of 12 formats, or you can duplicate an existing slide – a very neat feature. Quickoffice does not include preloaded themes like OfficeSuite Pro, but it's no great loss. If you need to create a basic slideshow on the go, Quickoffice has you covered. It even includes a presentation mode.

Quickoffice will also let you view, but not create, PDF documents. There are a few unique features, but the support feels obligatory – I don't even think the search function works properly. It will get the job done, and is useful for reference materials, but that's about it.

Quickoffice and Google Drive

Both Google projects, Quickoffice and Google Drive, are two very different entities. Drive focuses on storage and collaboration on documents created in Drive (GDOCS) while Quickoffice taps into Drive for storage, but only works with Microsoft Office documents (and only lets you save as the latest incarnations, such as DOCX). You can only view, not edit, Word documents in Drive for Android, and Quickoffice opens Drive documents as PDFs.

Quickoffice offers the critical support for Office documents that Google seems to feel uncomfortable about providing in its Drive application. Quickoffice also lets you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, a feature completely unavailable in the Google Drive app.

Verdict

Now that it's available for free, there's little reason not to download Quickoffice. Its limitations – missing editing features, and lack of support for more varied document formats – aren't going to be a major issue for most users. But if you're a heavy Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Sugarsync user, it probably isn't worth moving all your documents over to Google Drive.

While there's a lot to like about Quickoffice, it feels more like an appendage to Google Drive born out of a weird desire to keep Drive focused on Google documents. Personally, I think Drive could learn a lot from Quickoffice's design, but I suspect that Google will keep the two separate for the foreseeable future.