The right office apps for the iPhone at work

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

UPDATED JUNE 8, 2011: Read the June 2011 updated review of iPhone office apps, including Apple's iWork suite for iPhone.

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.

[ 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 investigated the available apps and has put together a recommended business apps suite that should be the standard install on corporate iPhones. Note that when I say iPhone, I include iPod Touches. (I've added iTunes links for each app covered.) And for business needs beyond basic productivity apps,  check out InfoWorld's compendium of specialty business iPhone apps.

In some respects, the choices were easy because there are fewer productivity app options for the iPhone than for the iPad. But that also points to an issue if you work with both iPhones and iPads: In many cases, you won't be using the same productivity app on the iPhone as you do on the iPad. There are few productivity apps that excel on both devices. Thus, our recommended iPhone office apps "suite" is not the same as the set of apps we recommend for the iPad.

The office suite candidates are Quickoffice's Quickoffice Mobile Connect Suite ($10, but its price changes frequently) and DavaViz's Documents to Go Premium ($17). (Apple's iWork suite is not available for the iPhone.) Note that 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, so if you use both devices, you'll need to buy a separate version for each.

Quickoffice has a word processor and spreadsheet 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. Both programs read and write to the Microsoft Office file formats.

I 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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