When Microsoft quietly released its own editor for Office documents on the iPhone last week, it left something out: a version for the iPad. If the iPhone screen is too small for you to consider viewing and editing important documents, no...
When Microsoft quietly released its own editor for Office documents on the iPhone last week, it left something out: a version for the iPad. If the iPhone screen is too small for you to consider viewing and editing important documents, no worries, you still have ways to do so on the larger screen of the iPad.
Here are the currently available options that will allow you to view and edit your Office documents on Apple’s tablet.
Mobile Office for iPhone, scaled up
While it is true that the existing Office app does not have a custom user interface for the iPad, the iPhone version of Microsoft’s Mobile App can be installed and run on the iPad with 2x video scaling. This may seem a little awkward at first, but you can gain access to all of the features offered on the iPhone version of the app.
While the Word document editor does not scale well by pinching and zooming using the iPad’s 2x video scaling, the Excel and PowerPoint editors do a much better job. You can zoom in an out of both Excel and PowerPoint documents to gain a better view of the document on the iPad.
If you are an Office 365 subscriber, the main advantage in using this versus the web versions of Office apps is that you can store and access your files for offline editing. Unfortunately the features available in the native iPhone app are a bit lacking when compared to their Web App versions.
Office Web Apps for mobile browsers
Microsoft’s free Office Web Apps work just fine within Safari on the iPad. Better, in fact, since they have many features the official iPhone app lacks. For instance, the editor for Word in the web version has more features than the iOS native version. Features like being able to change the font, adjust the document’s margins, insert tables, and even change the selected text’s style.
The major problem using Microsoft’s web apps for Office is that you cannot access the apps, or any of the files for that matter, without an internet connection. So you either have a more fully featured web app that requires internet access, or a lightweight native iPhone app that can work with your documents offline.
A minor annoyance is that when you run Office on the web from within Safari, you still have Safari’s toolbar as well as its tab bar present at the top of the screen. This is true even when adding a shortcut link to any one of Microsoft’s web apps on the home screen. Someone needs to inform Microsoft how to set the Apple-specific meta tag keys to enable full-screen mode in online Office. Until then, there are browser alternatives like Atomic ($1.99 Universal), Mercury ($0.99, Universal) and Dolphin (Free, iPad) that will allow you to enter into full- screen browsing mode with a single tap. It works very much like the iPhone version of Safari that does support full-screen browsing, in landscape mode only.
SkyDrive app for sharing links
Microsoft only supports SkyDrive as a storage option for iOS users that access either the mobile or web app versions of Office. If you are using SkyDrive as your document repository, the dedicated SkyDrive (free, Universal) app for iOS supports viewing Office documents. You can even download the documents for viewing when you are not connected to the internet.
The one unique thing you can do from within the SkyDrive app is create links for sharing SkyDrive documents with others. Sharing links to documents can be a more effective means of sending documents as the URL can be passed along via private Twitter message, a Facebook message, or even an SMS text message. The Office Mobile for iPhone app can only email the document as an attachment.
If you are only interested in viewing your Office documents on your iPad, there are alternatives that support more than just one SkyDrive account. GoodReader ($4.99, iPad) will allow you to connect to multiple SkyDrive accounts as well as Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, Box, and any other WebDAV, AFP, SMB, FTP or SFTP server.