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iPhone Doc Editing: Documents to Go vs. QuickOffice Pro

docsvsquick

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 (s aapl) 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.

docs1
Documents to Go editing interface
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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.

Features

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.

Usability

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.

Verdict

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 (s msft) 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.

20 Responses to “iPhone Doc Editing: Documents to Go vs. QuickOffice Pro”

  1. JAMES K.THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4 2010 said It is ridiculous that the iPhone doesn’t have Apple’s own “Pages” word processor come standard on it. All I need to be able to do is create a text document, give it a name, save it….. the iphone has ‘notes’ it will do all that then allow you to email the document.

    I had DocumentsToGo on a mac years ago to convert wpc files more recently on two consecutive PDA a ‘Palm’ & a ‘Sony’ it worked very well my HTC had windows mobile. I thought the iPhone version would be as good as the versions I had on my PDA’s. Unfortunately this has not been the case. I find it most unstable. if there is an auto save it doesn’t work. That aside I find that the program closes out of the blue. occasionally it is possible to restore changes upon reopening but not often. Each sentence must be saved manually or you might lose changes sometimes the whole document. As of june 2010 In Ireland documents to go still can’t edit excel documents, it will email all documents. All in all I have been disappointed by what on other platforms was an excellent application.

    Every time I’ve brought this to the attention of DocsToGo they tell me I was the only person to have this problem. That I should uninstall & reinstall my iphone system and their app. This did not rectify the problem on either iphone I have owned.

    From today I’m going to try Quick office. I’ve been waiting for microsoft to release something for the iPhone but it appears that is not going to happen.Thank you for your article I found it most informative and the following comments.

    regards

    Deirdre

  2. I find myself using QO more these days because of it now supporting gmail docs, box.net and dropbox. However, it really needs built-in SYNCING like DTG has. I still prefer DTG’s interface and it’s been more stable for me but I am enjoying cloud storage intergration in QO.

    My conclusion: If built-in file syncing is your highest priority DTG is definitely the winner. If cloud storage is more important to you then QO wins. If you simply care most about the user interface and function then either is fine although I would still give DTG the edge.

  3. Apple is really shooting itself in the foot these days. The reason people hate Gates and his evil MS ware, is because everything is “no” you “can’t” do that. Apple was always the “yes” you “can” do that company. Apple needs to stop the nonsense and make the iPhone able to do what we need it to do. It is ridiculous that the iPhone doesn’t have Apple’s own “Pages” word processor come standard on it. All I need to be able to do is create a text document, give it a name, save it, and be able to transfer that document to idisk. Then I could get it from idisk on my macbook and print it out. Or, after saving the document on the iPhone, let me use my regular ‘ol mac email on the iPhone and send the document as an attachment in the email. Sounds pretty simple right? Apple has to get back to being the “yes you can” do that, company.

    • After multiple updates of each program I still like the user interface and fluidity of DTG better than QO. I just wish DTG had the ability to be password protected as well.

      The lack of file management on the iPhone is so annoying so much of the limitations of these software is the limitations of the OS. That said, we currently have what we have and of the two DTG is more robust for my needs and easier to use for word processing particularly if you want to sync as opposed to swapping files back and forth (assuming you are not a user of MobileMe).

  4. H. M. H.

    Neither of these programs have a full email (attachment opening/saving) interface for hotmail or others. Until either can make itself the default opening program for attachments with the correct application, they both will fall short.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Sergio_A

    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. 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.

  9. str1f3

    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.

  10. zxmacman

    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.

  11. 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.