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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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?