Office² (pronounced “Office Squared”) allows you to view and edit Word 97-2003 (.doc) and Excel 97-2003 (.xls) documents on your iPhone and iPod Touch. You can also view PDFs, and the app provides integration with Google Docs, iDisc and WebDav. Admittedly editing any document more ambitious than email on devices of this size can be painful at times, despite Apple’s great GUI. But “Office Squared” makes the process relatively painless.
Office2 fires up with a fairly sterile and business like front page with a settings and info icon, and an empty “Local Files” storage area.
The info icon takes you to a surprisingly verbose Help section with a massive array of instructional documents arranged in a kind of hypertext index. Sections are in there on everything from “Getting started” to “Creating a workbook” for Excel, to “Error codes” and “Product support”. If you can’t find the info you need there then you probably don’t need it! Each page takes a second or so to load, which is confusing at first because you think your touch has not been registered. But once loaded these scrollable pages are packed with info. Another small niggle is that the Back button doesn’t work on the index page of the help section to exit. Rather, you are supposed to use the Done button. The Back button only works when in an actual help document to get back to the help menu. However, it’s always visible. This is something the developers could, and should polish by simply turning that button off when it doesn’t do anything. Like I said, a small niggle, but there are a few things like this in Office2 that make it feel, well.. very like Microsoft Office!
In the settings screen are the options to enable sharing documents to and from your desktop computer, with Google Docs, your iDisk or a WebDAV server. All the web based options are as simple to use as plugging in your username and password and then returning to the main screen where an option is added to view your files online. From there you can choose to simply view them, or “move” or “save” them onto your device locally. Nice. However, here again certain options such as cancelling a transfer without choosing a destination are ignored. It would be far better if the buttons to do that were not there at all in the places the app chooses to ignore them. Sharing documents to and from your computer is done by typing the URL the application provides you with into any browser on a machine on your network, and then either clicking to download files onto your computer, or selecting files to upload to your iPod Touch or iPhone with a file selector. Simple.
Viewing and editing documents is great. You can touch them. Pinch zoom. Edit text. And a small subsection of the Office functions you would expect in each type of document are available on a scrolling menu bar at the bottom of the screen. You can do all of this in landscape or portrait mode simply by turning the device to the orientation you prefer as you work. It should be noted that you can’t edit PDF documents, but you can view them and pinch zoom them etc. With regards to my UI niggles I have to say I found the user interface trouble free when editing stuff.
You can also create new Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets in any of your document spaces. So that includes not only on your iPod or iPhone, but also on Google Docs online for example. There are also a wealth of options for what you can do with Excel spreadsheets, such as multiple worksheets with unlimited rows and columns, searching and sorting of cells, cell formatting, cell types, and pane freezing among other spreadsheet necessities. The iPhone’s touch screen is used effectively throughout, letting you tap and drag to change row heights and column widths, zoom, and tap cells to compose formulas. Really nice.
I herald from days in ancient computer history when getting any kind of Office document or PDF to view on even a Mac was a tortuous task. So it still seems neat to me to be able to work with these kinds of documents so easily. I certainly wouldn’t write a book, or manage my company accounts using “Office Squared”. But having documents I can make minor edits on with me on my iPhone feels great. Being able to plug into web based copies so easily is also cool.
Although the app costs the princely sum of $4.99. A small fortune in terms of iPhone software these days!! It’s well worth it, and I wish other developers would price their apps sensibly like this. Now all Byte Squared need to do is tidy up those UI niggles for me and this would be perfect.
If they ever get adventurous and add PDF editing as an option I’d pay considerably more for this app.
The Not So Good
Price: $4.99 (iTunes Store Preview)
Updated Feb 05, 2010
Reviewed Version: 3.0.1
Size: 2.6 MB
Languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
Seller: Byte Squared
© Byte Squared Limited
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch. Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later.