Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quickoffice Suite for iPhone - the first real Microsoft Office-compatible iPhone suite

According to laptopmag.com, Quickoffice for iPhone was released at the start of this month in the US. It consists of three applications:

Quickword, which lets you create, edit and view Microsoft Word-compatible documents on the iPhone

Quicksheet, which allows you to create, edit and view Microsoft Excel-compatible spreadsheets on the iPhone, and

Quickoffice Files, which is basically the previously released MobileFiles 2.0 (which we reviewed here: iPhone Mobile Files Pro review)

This app lets you transfer files between your iPhone and your computer. It also allows you to view different file formats on your iPhone including PDF, iWork, PowerPoint and pictures.

According to the site, it is the single best iPhone app to edit, create and share Microsoft Office documents. You get all of the essentials like word wrapping, the facility to open and edit large and complex files, and support for Word and Excel.

However, on our last visit (7 April 2009) to the Greek app store, only Quickoffice Files and Quicksheet were available. Also, the quickoffice.com website implies that the suite has not yet been released in full (there is an option to sign up for a newsletter that will inform of the release). Maybe laptopmag.com tested a prelease of the product.

In any case, it seems that Quickoffice hands out Word and Excel –compatible documents to the iPhone user without a problem. In Quickword, you may double-tap to highlight text and use two tiny selection pins to move and highlight your document. If you click and hold, you can also zoom in for more precise highlighting, or triple-tap to select an entire document. Further, you can copy and paste any text—an aspect that even the latest iPhone OS itself has yet to integrate (until its new OS Version 3.0 is available). Quickoffice goes further than formatting to give emphasis to usability.

If somebody calls your iPhone, your document is automatically saved, even when the app shuts down due to the incoming call. Quickoffice even autosaves open docs every 5 minutes- in case the battery goes bust.
Very thoughtful feature.

Excel functionality seems to be robust as well. You can highlight and resize columns, compute data using a huge library of functions, and more. Copy/Paste functionality isn't yet available, but laptopmag.com states that the company said it's coming soon.

The complete suite’s price is $19.99, but QuickSheet or QuickWord are also available separately for $12.99 each, or Quickoffice Files for $3.99.

Quickoffice Files, like its predecessor Mobile Files, syncs Office documents seamlessly with Mobile Me, via Wi-Fi, to an FTP server and directly to your iPhone, or can turn your iPhone into a mounted drive via Wi-Fi.

Quickoffice for iPhone apparently doesn't support the creation of PowerPoint files, but you can view them as well as PDF and picture files. After months of waiting for a real mobile Office alternative for the iPhone, we seem to finally have something really useful and all-encompassing that lets us create, edit and share our Microsoft Office-compatible documents with our iPhone.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Web-based Microsoft Office 14 will run on iPhone's Safari

An official Microsoft Office suite will become available shortly on the iPhone.

Recently Microsoft exec Stephen Elop's suggested that Microsoft Office is coming to the iPhone. Ina Fried from cnet news asserts this will be the case as Microsoft seems to have already announced that they are planning to introduce Web-based versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote in the coming months. The applications will run in Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Microsoft has already confirmed that this means Office for iPhone, as noted by Microsoft's Sarah Perez in November last year.

Microsoft did not explicitly state there will be a free version, though executives have noted the apps will be part of Office Live, which comes as both free and subscription packages. Perez insinuates that there will be both free and paid options. I am just curious whether this will appear as a gadget in the iPhone’s AppStore.


Generally speaking, one of the significant changes with Office 14 is the fact that, in addition to the desktop versions, Microsoft will also produce a set of "Office Web Applications" essentially slimmed-down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote that can run via a Web browser, including iPhone’s Safari. For the first time, this means Linux machines and Apple's iPhone will run the programs.


Ina Fried produced a video interview with Office development chief Antoine Leblond that you can view here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10210254-56.html


Exciting stuff for iPhone users with a real Mobile Office!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Office on the iPhone: Microsoft Office on the iPhone

Hi all,

I have changed the title of the blog to Office on the iPhone.
This new title reflects the specialization in writing about all new trends that specifically have to do with using the iPhone in order to create and edit Microsoft Office-compatible documents.
Although we will frequently cover more general topics that have to do with the iPhone and its use for business, we will aim to cater specifically to those readers who are interested in the developments of Microsoft Office compatibility on Apple's iPhone. As time progresses and the iPhone matures, more and more developers are coming out with solutions that create a real mobile Office experience on the iPhone- with the ability to create, edit and share Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel-compatible documents.

Enjoy reading this blog!

Friday, January 23, 2009

MobileFiles Pro review: a Microsoft Office editor for the iPhone

When the iPhone first came out, we witnessed the lack of Microsoft Office document editors, believing that their absence slowed down the slick communicator's acceptance as a serious business tool or a “Mobile Office”, as I call it. Well, Quickoffice has just released MobileFiles Pro. It is available from the AppStore at $9.99. It's not a complete iPhone Microsoft Office suite—yet. You can view Excel, PowerPoint, and Word files, but you can edit only Excel spreadsheets so far. Still, it's better than nothing, and the software may eventually include full Microsoft Mobile Office editing capacities. Certainly for those who prefer the sleek iPhone to the generally clunky Windows Mobile devices, this app is a welcome foot in the Office door, Michael Muchmore at Pcmag reports.

The MobileFiles Pro also offers the standard viewing features that were available with the original MobileFiles app, including iWork and PDF files. You can also listen to music files, watch mp4 videos, and look at images using the app. The application even lets you use the iPhone's wireless feature to swap files with a networked computer
The home screen shows where you can obtain, store, or create files. Right now, you can do so either on the iPhone, in your Apple MobileMe account, or on a Wi-Fi-connected Mac or PC. According to Quickoffice, the publishers of MobileFiles Pro, later this year you'll be able to keep files in Google Docs and box.net, too. On the Settings page you can do two tasks: choosing a password to protect the app and setting a maximum cache size for your working files. To create a new document, you first have to choose a folder location. Once you're in a folder, icons for creating folders and spreadsheets show up at the bottom of the screen. When you open a file, a new set of formatting icons appears.
Swapping documents and files between your desktop system and the iPhone is easy as we know from the other Finder-like apps we have used (Airsharing et al). You connect both to the same Wi-Fi network, and in the desktop's browser, navigate to the URL that MobileFiles shows on the iPhone. If you want, you can password-protect the resulting Web page, too. Note that the Wi-Fi router needs to be connected to the Internet for this to work—it's not simply a Wi-Fi connection between the iPhone, router, and PC. The Web page lets you get to your documents on the iPhone as well as upload and download them but gives you no spreadsheet or other program functionality. While this file-transfer feature isn't as neat as the one in Air Sharing (which adds drag-and-drop capability), it worked flawlessly in Michael’s testing.
The application includes an array of useful pre-built spreadsheets: a mortgage calculator, an expense planner, a student grade sheet, a personal net-worth calculator, and a break-even analyzer. You can edit these (and any Excel 2003 spreadsheet), entering your own numbers and changing formulas, and you can save new copies. You don't get the same ability that the combination of ActiveSync and Windows Mobile gives you to sync mobile and PC files. But using MobileMe to store files can achieve the same result, since you're simply storing the one file in online storage that can be accessed either from the phone or computer. And Wi-Fi transfer with MobileFiles Pro is more straightforward to set up than ActiveSync, which requires a program installation.

Editing a spreadsheet is simple. You can take advantage of the iPhone's touch screen to move the sheet, and the touch keyboard lets you make entries. Multi-touch pinching and spreading lets you zoom the view in and out. There are a couple of annoyances, though: The keyboard doesn't switch to number entry automatically, which usually makes sense for spreadsheet input, especially when the cell is in number format. (This was not the case in “Spreadsheet”, the app we had reported on last month). Also, tapping on the big "X" on the right-hand side of the text entry box doesn't clear the cell contents, as it would in any other iPhone app—possibly an early-stage oversight. The X does, however, work for clearing functions in a cell.

There are a couple of interface choices that Michael positively commented on: When you return to MobileFiles after quitting, you're taken right to the sheet and location you were last viewing—you're not forced to navigate back from a home screen. And the ever-useful Undo and Redo icons make life a lot easier for those of us who aren't infallible.

MobileFiles Pro doesn't let you create custom number formats, but you'll find every number-formatting selection Excel makes available in all its categories—currency, dates, scientific, accounting, and so forth. Toggling boldface and italics on or off is easy, as is changing the color of fonts and cell backgrounds. Adding rows and columns is equally straightforward, but you can't name a range or use cut-and-paste as you can with Microsoft Mobile Excel. You can select a range of cells, though without cut-and-paste capability, that's useful only for formatting.

The application offers the complete selection of functions that Excel lets you access from the "fx" symbol next to its cell-input box. Among the choices are financial standbys such as IRR (internal rate of return), trignonometric favorites, including arccosine, and statistical essentials such as standard deviations. But Microsoft's Excel Mobile offers all of this, along with helpful explanations of what each function does. Excel Mobile also gives you advanced features, such as the ability to refer to cells or regions on an external spreadsheet.

Excel Mobile comes out well ahead with charts and graphs, as well. MobileFiles Pro not only lacks the ability to create them, it can't even display them. Some users may consider charting and graphing capabilities to be frills, but they're a major reason that many people use a spreadsheet. The inability seriously detracts from MobileFiles' usefulness and also makes one wonder about the steep price. The company plans to add editing capabilities for the other Microsoft Office apps in 2009, which would justify the expenditure.

Even given its faults, MobileFiles Pro is a welcome step in the right direction for iPhone owners. It isn’t the first app that works with spreadsheets, but we are hoping that the iPhone Office editing capabilities will expand to the other programs of the Microsoft Office range. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

The $99 iPhone from AT&T

AT&T are offering a $99 iPhone. These iPhones are 8GB, black, refurbished, i.e. previously-owned iPhones that come with a two year contract. Check out the AT&T website for more details. Shame I had to pay nearly €500 for my 16GB iPhone in Greece....

The iPhone really is a Mobile Office!

Here is another example of the iPhone's integration with your business office:

Last night while we were shooting a wedding, I could not remember how many hours the client had booked us for. Out comes the iPhone and using Vodafone free monthly data I connect to my iDisk using MobileFiles.

For those who don't know what the iDisk is and what it has to do with the iPhone: It is a service provided by Apple through MobileMe that provides you with an Internet hard drive that can be accessed by any device: a desktop computer (an Internet connection suffices), a laptop or your iPhone, provided you have a program like MobileFiles installed. I put all my important work stuff on iDisk, contracts, business plans, etc. It's like a hard drive that is the same and always up to date on any computer you use.

So out comes the iPhone and it connects to my iDisk through MobileFiles. VoilĂ . In a matter of seconds I downloaded the contract that was signed by the client and which I had scanned and saved on my iDisk, to my iPhone's screen.

Then last night I also couldn't remember the rate we pay our assistant videographer. Again out came the iPhone, and in a matter of seconds I had connected to our online book keeping software, Kashflow, and found out how much we pay him. All that with the iPhone's inbuilt Internet browser, Safari.

There are many occasions when I feel I have my whole office in my pocket, simply by having the iPhone handy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"cannot view large PDF on iPhone"

The iphone is still having issues with viewing large PDF files, whether one uses AirSharing, Files, MobileFiles, MobileStudio or any other browsing app. The problem seems to be a memory allocation deficit in the actual iPhone OS. If anybody has found a workaround to fixing this problem or an iPhone app where you can actually view large PDFs with your iPhone, please leave a comment right here on the iPhone as a Mobile Office blog.

Merry iPhone Xmas

The iPhone as a Mobile Office wishes all iPhone business users a very merry Xmas!
Will you use your iPhone this Christmas to contact all your loved ones? Will you email them, call them, send them text messages or use cheap VoIP calls? I certainly will.
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New iPhone business app: Accepting credit card payments with an iPhone credit card terminal: Innerfence

iPhone business users can now accept credit card payments with a real iPhone Credit Card Terminal by Innerfence. This is a really significant step into the direction of the iPhone as a Mobile Office.If the iPhone can do point of sale transactions, you can really take your business office with you. This new business app enables the iPhone business user to accept credit card payments on site, without having to go back to the office. Whether I, as a photographer, meets a potential customer who wants to pay their retainer, or whether the business iPhone user works at antique fairs, music festivals, second hand computer shops, conventions, equipment rentals, car boot sales, farmers' markets, home party sales, party services or any other on-site services one can think of.
The iPhone user has to sign up with authorize.net and pay them a monthly fee plus a per-transaction fee. Sadly, this service is only available to business iPhone users in the USA. 

Think of the possibilities of a mobile Credit Card Terminal! Whether people unfamiliar with the iPhone Credit Card Terminal will be willing to hand over their plastic is another issue, and one that will probably be difficult to overcome at first. 
These are exciting time for savvy business users of the iPhone who work on the go, away from their office!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cheap phone calls for business users of the iPhone: fring, Truphone

How to make cheap VoIP Skype phone calls with the iPhone. Download fring from the AppStore. It's free. Configure fring with your Skype account. Dial the number you want to call with Skype and press "Skype Out". Another similar VoIP solution is TruPhone. Similarly to Skype, you top up your account or buy a special savings pack ( such as the American & Canadian Saver) and make cheap iPhone calls! You need to use a wireless Internet connection to make it worth the while and not use up your data your iPhone service provider might have in your monthly package.
I have used fring successfully a few times, however, there are many times when it just disconnects when I try making that Skype Out call from the iPhone. I am not sure what the issue is here. Connecting to IM (instant messaging) services like MSN, yahoo and Google always works well.
Similarly, I have successfully made quite a few cheap phone calls from the iPhone using Truphone. They have very good customer service: I had bought the American & Canadian Saver package for 1000 minutes of calls to the US and Canada and the Truphone app could not log into my Truphone account from my iPhone for two weeks. When I contacted the Truphone customer services, they immediately helped me resolve the issue and extended my monthly package to reflect on the time I had lost and I went back to making more cheap calls to the US and Canada with my iPhone.
Cheap VoIP phone calls using the iPhone are now only one free visit to the AppStore away!

Lukas likes sleeping- if you want him awake for more posts, you can buy him a bottle of Coke ($1)