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The best office apps for Android tablets

JR Raphael | June 5, 2012
With the right set of apps, your Android tablet can become an indispensable part of your mobile work arsenal. Here are the tools you need

Tablets are rapidly transitioning from novelty toys to business tools. While Apple's iPad may be today's workplace standard, with its maturing array of office and IT applications, Android-based slates are on the rise, boasting their own growing ecosystem of mobile work utilities.

Whether you want to transform your own Android tablet into a workhorse or support other business tablet users, the apps you choose can make or break the tablet experience. This is true particularly when it comes to productivity apps, where a significant portion of tablet-based business work resides.

I tested five popular office suites to find the best possible productivity setup for Android tablet users. I looked at DataViz's Documents to Go, which costs $15 for the full premium version (needed for most features); Google's free Google Docs service, which is now part of the Google Drive application; Mobile Systems' $15 OfficeSuite Pro; Quickoffice's $20 Quickoffice Pro HD; and ThinkFree Mobile's $9 ThinkFree Mobile for Tablet. (Note: Prices are accurate as of this writing and may change over time.)

To assess the quality of each contender, I analyzed its handling of word processing, spreadsheet editing, and presentation management. I took into account the app's interface as it applies to the tablet form and the breadth and quality of features it offers. I also tested several stand-alone apps to find the best Android tablet tool for PDF manipulation, as most of the office suites don't natively provide that function.

Read on for the full breakdown and my recommendations for assembling the best overall office package for Android tablets.

The best Android tablet word processorThink all word processors are created equal? Think again. Android's top tablet office suites run the gamut from magnificent to meh in their word processing capabilities -- and if you don't get the right app for your needs, expect a lot of headaches, especially when supporting business users who find your app of choice falling short of theirs.

Documents to Go

Documents to Go may be one of the biggest names in mobile document management, but when it comes to Android tablets, it's also one of the biggest disappointments. The app's interface has not been optimized for tablets or even updated to meet Google's basic Android 4.0 design standards. As a result, you're forced to use a legacy menu icon in order to access basic commands that should be presented as on-screen options. Worse yet, most commands are buried within layers of menus, making them even more arduous to access and difficult to find.

Documents to Go's word processor does offer a decent set of editing tools, including options for table insertion, comment management, and word count. It has optional Google Docs integration, too, along with its own stand-alone PC-to-cloud sync utility. But with its outdated interface, using this app on a tablet (or any Android 4.0 device) is anything but pleasant. It feels like using a program that was at the top of its game a year ago and hasn't been updated since.

 

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