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Summary:

If all you want is iWork files primarily on your iPad, no need to look beyond the iWork Suite for the iPad. However, now that the iPad versions of Documents To Go and Quickoffice are finally out, which one is right for you?

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When the iPad was announced, Steve touted the virtues of how wonderful it would be to have iWork on your iPad. We at TheAppleBlog were unimpressed with Pages, Numbers and Keynote. You can read the full reviews for details, but our primary complaints revolved around the difficulty of getting documents on and off the iPad and syncing with the cloud.

If all you want is iWork files primarily on your iPad, no need to look beyond the iWork Suite for the iPad. However, iPhone users have been working with their spreadsheets, documents, and presentations in the cloud for a while with the iPhone versions of Documents To Go and Quickoffice and got used to not being locked into the iWork file format. Now that the iPad versions of these apps are finally out, which one is right for you? Let’s review the features first.

Documents To Go

Documents to Go for the iPhone was recently updated to support the iPad. Previous owners merely need to update and have full functionality on both devices. Two versions exist: Documents To Go and Documents To Go Premium. The Premium version adds support for cloud computing as well as presentations.

To sync with your computer, Documents To Go provides a desktop application for Windows and Mac that allows you to transfer files to and from your iPad over your Wi-Fi network without actually having to connect your computer to iTunes. The premium cloud support includes Google, MobileMe, Dropbox, Box.net and SugarSync. While you can use multiple cloud accounts, you cannot customize the names.

Quickoffice HD

Unlike Documents To Go, this is a separate iPad app. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad is focused exclusively on the cloud, but does allow uploading files to your iPad via a web interface. Access to files on Google, MobileMe, Dropbox, and Box.net are all included. Unlike Documents To Go, SugarSync support is not included. Quickoffice has support for password protection as well as customizing the cloud account names.

Feature Comparisons

Both programs access files from the cloud and are integrated with the Dropbox iPad app to allow direct transfer of files to either Documents To Go or Quickoffice. However, Quickoffice does a more fluid job of accessing the cloud by connecting automatically in the background and quickly giving you access. Documents To Go, on the other hand, requires you to manually sync, refreshing your cloud file listing in the foreground and preventing you from doing anything else while the sync is underway. Additionally, it didn’t respect Google’s hidden documents so I literally had to scroll through hundreds of hidden files. At least Documents To Go remembered recent files making subsequent visits to the app slightly less painful.

Editing and navigating files in Quickoffice seemed more like a desktop app. For example, spreadsheets retained page tabs at the bottom in Quickoffice while in Documents To Go I had to access the toolbar at the bottom and then choose which tab to activate. PDFs in Documents To Go do not allow scrolling in the document; you have to manually turn each page. Documents To Go also had a cryptic and unintuitive toolbar at the bottom (see example below).

Same spreadsheet in Quickoffice

Of the two programs, Documents To Go did do a better job of retaining the file formatting of the original document. Neither program did a 100 percent perfect job of retaining all formatting, though. Slight errors regarding font styles and sizing as well as spacing developed. I consider these problems minor since I see the primarily goal of editing on your iPad to be data entry and manipulation, not the look and feel of the document.

Verdict

For value, Documents To Go is an ideal choice. You can have access to your files on the iPhone and iPad with just one app. You can upgrade within the app to the Premium version for an extra $5 to get the presentation and cloud access. Users of SugarSync will have to choose this app if they want access via their iPad.

For most iPad users, Quickoffice is the better choice. Easy-to-use cloud support and quick loading of your files allows for fast editing while Documents To Go painfully makes you wait to sync back and forth. Be prepared for some quirkiness in formatting going back and forth between other apps, but otherwise you’ll have a user experience nearly identical to your desktop or web-based applications for spreadsheets, presentations and word processing.

And, yes, this article was written in both Documents to Go and Quickoffice on my iPad. I ultimately finished it with Quickoffice.

What’s your iPad office suite of choice?

  1. I had a great deal of loyalty to Docs To Go from my days on Palm. Unfortunately, I’ve found it to be clunky all round – which seems to be your rather more politely put impression too. There are also some annoying implementation choices / lack of user testing… For example, open an attachment from e-mail and if you accidentally change anything it wont let you back out of reading you have to save a copy or undo furiously – there’s no ‘Don’t Save’ or ignore changes. Adding to your toolbar comment, I find moving backwards and forwards in a doc and switching between editing and viewing can be baffling.

    As such, I was annoyed to have to buy another app (I want to give Docs To Go back). I’m glad Quickoffice have a special on though. Although it’s formatting preservation is weaker and presentations are a promised feature, it is the app I go to for most of my office like work.

    I did want to ask though, do the apps need Dropbox installed? I’d got the impression that they accessed the service directly via API and was actually thinking about binning Dropbox as a discrete App.

    Finally, I also wanted to +1 on another sentiment:
    • iWork for the iPad.
    • Document synchronisation.
    Shame on you Apple.

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  2. I don’t believe DropBox needs to be installed to use the DropBox features

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  3. Does either Docs to Go or Quickoffice handle footnotes? In my line of work, footnotes are unavoidable, but Pages strips them out completely, rendering the app only usable for the most basic outlining (and it’s not much better than Notes in that regard). Editing them isn’t absolutely necessary, but if I’m sent a doc with footnotes, I have to be able to read them.

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  4. Ivan Williams Thursday, June 24, 2010

    I like DocumentsToGo for my iPhone and iPad. Albeit, I’ll try QuickOffice for myself to see what gives…

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  5. Paul Charlesworth Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Do either of these Apps do a decent job of reading the formatting found in more complex PPt and Doc files? I’ve heard they are both pretty bad once you get past the basic layout.

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    1. It’s all relative. Nothing on the iPad is Word. Every app butchers the formatting to some degree. Mostly this is about content and convenience not replacement.

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  6. I bought both but would just buy QuickOffice if I could go back in time. Seems like no way to create new folders in Google Docs or Dropbox with Documents to Go premium. Also couldn’t figure out how to create .txt files with docs to go, just edit existing ones.

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  7. Another good feature of documents to go is to download the file from dropbox locally so you can use it offline. Great for people who have non 3g ipads and ipod touches. You can change the document and sync it the next time you’re on the net.

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    1. Of course the trick with Quickoffice and Dropbox would be to use the Dropbox app to mark a document as starred. Gives you the same functionality as Docs To Go albeit with an intermediate step.

      My expectation is that there will be an arms race between the products. Quickoffice can add some of the Docs To Go elements like this more easily than Docs To Go will fine it to come up with a slicker UI.

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  8. One thing to keep in mind – Dataviz offers no email support for the iphone and iPad platforms. Your only support solutions are $20 per-incident phone support or their user forums, which they do not seem to check.
    The latest version of Docs2Go crashes for several people when trying to access Google Docs. So far, Dataviz has not responded to forum posts on the issue and the bug does not appear fixed in the most recent update.

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    1. Hi all –this is in response to Chris’s and SubSolar’s posts: Google docs is actually not yet compatible with the ipad (or any other mobile device – iphone might be the one exception, but can’t remember). Surprising let down from google, but indeed confirmed officially by google on its website as of yesterday.
      Perhaps y’all have already found that out at this point (3.5 months since both your posts), but if not I hope this helps ease frustration/ confusion in docs to go °J° {However there is no excuse for docs2go’s notoriously non-existent buyer support!! Maybe Dell and HP, perhaps even MS, are paying them off…. ! }

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  9. I purchased both but I think that Quickoffice is clearly much better than Documents to Go, it has a nicer interface and runs much sleeker.

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