A little while ago, QuickOffice ($19.99, iTunes link) brought Word document editing to the iPhone. This week, however, QuickOffice officially loses its corner on that market with the introduction of Documents to Go ($4.99, iTunes link) by Dataviz, a seasoned contender. The iPhone may not be […]


A little while ago, QuickOffice ($19.99, iTunes link) brought Word document editing to the iPhone. This week, however, QuickOffice officially loses its corner on that market with the introduction of Documents to Go ($4.99, iTunes link) by Dataviz, a seasoned contender.

The iPhone may not be my device of choice when it comes to doing significant edits to text documents, but in times of duress, it might be the quickest, most convenient, or even the only option available, so I like to have the capability. Let’s see which of these two apps will earn a place of honor on my springboard.

User Interface

Full-featured word processing on an iPhone might not make for a very pretty experience no matter how you slice it, but there are definitely ways to make it more or less pleasurable, depending on your UI choices. It’s a challenging task, taking the ribbon and/or menu bar of a full-featured desktop app and trying to somehow incorporate the same features into a mobile app interface.

Both Documents to Go and QuickOffice try to tackle the problem in much the same way: Store features in a menu bar across the bottom using expandable icons that open up to reveal more functions. While both apps use this feature, they both do so in a very different way, and you will probably vastly prefer one over the other, depending on your personal taste.


Documents to Go editing interface


QuickOffice editing interface

As for me, I like the implementation found in Documents to Go. The main difference between the two is a multipage menu bar that you can scroll by swiping left or right. It means that more features are available to you in fewer steps. There are three pages worth of menu bar items for word editing, including document info, bulleting and numbering. QuickOffice offers far fewer functions from its own bottom menu bar, although both include a very necessary document search function.

Some might prefer QuickOffice’s full-text menu list items, but I like the icons used by Documents to Go. They may be a little harder to grasp at first, but the space they save is well worth the learning curve.


In both cases, most of the features are spot on in terms of what you’d expect from a mobile word editor. You won’t get table editing/creation capabilities, but you will get font and paragraph formatting, list creation, and copy and paste. Interestingly, neither takes advantage of the newly built-in copy/paste functions of OS 3.0.

QuickOffice loses out to Documents to Go by not allowing you to create numbered lists, only bulleted. But it does offer some macro-level features that definitely trump Dataviz’s offering. For one, it has MobileMe iDisk integration baked in, so that all you have to do is enter your credentials and you’re off. Another incredibly useful feature is the ability to email documents you create to anyone from right within the app. Documents to Go doesn’t even have an export to mail function.

Documents to Go does have the ability to sync with a desktop client they offer for free, and to save directly to the desktop should you so desire, as long as you have a network connection. I tend to prefer not having to install any client software on my Mac, though.


In terms of actual editing mechanics for individual documents, Documents to Go beats QuickOffice on usability. The interface is nicer, you have more control at your finger tips, and the keyboard button is more conveniently located. It’s also just much more pleasant to look at, in my opinion, which can be a big plus if you’re stuck staring at a small screen for any length of time.

With overall usability, though, QuickOffice takes the cake. Being able to share docs so easily via email and iDisk is a huge bonus, and loads easier than using Documents to Go’s desktop client sync.


I actually had a hard time picking a winner in this rumble. For the purposes of this comparison, I was only looking at document editing, so I didn’t take into consideration the fact that Documents to Go can’t yet handle Excel file editing. That’s supposed to be on its way in a future update, though.

What I did look at was price. There’s a big difference between the two apps in that regard. QuickOffice is $19.99, and even QuickWord is $12.99. Documents to Go, on the other hand, is only $4.99 ($9.99 for a version with exchange support), and will eventually include Excel editing for no extra charge. That’s a quarter of the price of QuickOffice.

Given that the primary reason I’d even want to have a Word document editor on my iPhone in the first place is for quick edits at the request of a client or employer, and that I don’t use Microsoft Exchange-based email, I decided that the ability to share via email trumps any advantage Documents to Go has with pricing and usability. If future updates introduce Mail integration, consider my verdict officially reversed, but for now, I have to give this one to QuickOffice.

  1. So.. Lemme get it straight.. Quickoffice has built-in mail client (to use for any mail like yahoo, gmail etc) and Docstogo has only for Exchange?

  2. I’ve found both to be extremely useful programs. And even at “more than four times the price,” QuickOffice is an absolute steal. I can remember paying closer to $60 for a QuickOffice Premiere version on the old Palm OS. And thinking (both then and now) that it was worth every penny.

  3. As a former Docs to Go user on the Treo, I have been using the iPhone app for a week now (Exchange version) It does everything I hoped it would do. I will be glad when it is updated to Apple’s standard cut and paste feature and Excel.

  4. I’m disappointed in this app. First, there is no way to get your documents off the $4.99 version other than through the client. If you’re away from your computer, there is no way to get it off. With Quickoffice there is iDisk and email. Quickoffice also said in a future update that they will offer a way to open email attachments.

    Secondly, how could they not offer iDisk support? It’s like they believed the hype that no one uses MobileMe. On their Twitter page, they were surprised that so many were asking for iDisk support.

    Third is why can’t I pinch and zoom on documents? Quickoffice lets me do this. Why can’t Docs to Go?

    I would have paid $30 for a full featured Office suite. I would have liked to have seen them try to add the same features that exists in the Treo even though currently Apple is not making it easy.

    I hope that they do not let development go stale. The UI is better than Quickoffice but it looks as if they put very little effort into the app itself. Right now it’s almost useless if you don’t have an Exchange account.

  5. Good job on this comparison. I did the same and agree with you. It is probably too soon to give a final verdict right now as both expect to get updates very soon.

    Docs-to-go v1.0 right now uses its own home grown cut-copy-paste (developed before iPhone 3.0). Its downside is you can only use cut-copy-paste in the app itself. The next version 1.1 will implement the iPhone cut-copy-paste so you can cut-copy-paste in and out of the app.

    The winner will need to have access to MobileMe and other online storage, email features and print (look at Print & Share app) as the iPhone does not allow third party apps to access email attachments or a central storage on the device.

  6. I got Quickoffice for the iDisk integration. If you have iDisk, this is a killer app.

  7. I’ve chosen QuickOffice for the ability to load files from other computers without the need of installing any software to make the transerring (DTG offers file synch but you have to install its own PC/Mac software…): you only need to share the same wi-fi connection.

  8. Documents To Go: Take Your Document Editing Work Mobile | AbdulVasi.com Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    [...] can be enabled through relevant applications). More details can be gleaned from this post titled “iphone Doc Editing:Documents To Go Vs QuickOffice” by Darrel Etherington, which  also compares this app with Quickoffice [...]

  9. You can also transfer files by mapping a drive to the QuickOffice folder on the iPhone. This is relatively easy to do because the URL address is on the bottom of the first screen. So this means you don’t need a MobileMe account and you can still easily get files onto your computer

    Also, the prices is currently $12.99.

  10. I need file syncing. For this reason I end up using Docs to Go (DTG) all the time and I haven’t really taken QuickOffice (QO) through its paces yet. DTG definitely has the better interface from what I could tell but it doesn’t seem to want to read all of my files. I really miss this part of Windows Mobile but I’m sure it’ll eventually improve on the iPhone.

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