The right office apps for the iPhone at work, round 2

If your company allows employees to use an iPhone, here are the productivity apps that you should install on the mobile devices

With Apple's iOS 4 supporting corporate security requirements, companies are increasingly saying an explicit yes to iPhone use. Certainly, an iPad makes more sense as a lightweight laptop replacement (see InfoWorld's picks for the best iPad office apps), but there are many times you can't easily pull out a laptop or iPad but can use a smartphone. Just as companies typically install a suite of productivity apps (nearly always Microsoft Office), what should the iPhone equivalent be?

The answer can't be Office because Microsoft has no iPhone-compatible suite. Microsoft's Office Web Apps cloud-based suite doesn't work on an iPhone either. Google Docs is also not usable on an iPhone.

[ Discover the best office apps for the iPad. | Learn how to manage iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

InfoWorld.com first investigated the available programs in December 2010 and put together a recommended business apps suite that should be the standard install on corporate iPhones. All have been revised, and new products have become available; six months later, I've re-reviewed the options to see what makes the most sense today. (I've added iTunes links for each app covered.) With Apple's recent introduction of its iCloud-enabled iWork apps -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- as universal apps that work on both the iPad and iPhone, it really is a new day in terms of your options.

Also, note that when I say iPhone, I include iPod Touches. And for business needs beyond basic productivity apps, check out InfoWorld's compendium of specialty business iPhone apps.

The office suite candidates are Apple's iWork apps (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, which cost $10 each), Quickoffice's Quickoffice Pro ($10, but its price changes frequently), and DavaViz's Documents to Go Premium ($17). Note that, like the iWork suite, Documents to Go is a universal app, so it can run on iPhones and iPads -- and if you have multiple devices, one license covers all the devices for a specific user. Quickoffice's iPhone version is not compatible with the Pad or vice versa; if you use both devices, you'll need to buy a separate version for each.

The iWork suite and Quickoffice both have a word processor, a spreadsheet editor, and a presentation editor; DocsToGo (as it's labeled on the iPhone) has a word processor, a spreadsheet editor, and a tool to add notes to a presentation. All three suites read and write to the Microsoft Office file formats, as well as text files. As you would expect, the iWork apps also read and write the iWork formats as well as export to PDF.

I'll first pick out the best individual productivity apps, then pull together a recommended suite that includes utilities that should be part of your standard iPhone arsenal:

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