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

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Switching worksheets is an awkward process, involving the opening of a page through which you then slide across available worksheets. Quickoffice's approach is easier.

Like Quickoffice, DocsToGo uses Excel-like function menus to insert formulas. But DocsToGo provides a bigger window for the formula, making it easier to edit.

The verdict: DocsToGo is our choice for spreadsheet editor because it is more capable than Quickoffice and no more difficult to use overall.

The best presentation software for the iPhone
The choice here is an easy one, as you shall see.

Quickoffice. The Quickoffice suite cannot edit or create presentations. But a late December update does let it view slides in one long scrolling view.

DocsToGo. The DocsToGo suite lets you open PowerPoint files and add notes to them, such as to make comments or provide feedback to your spreadsheet jockey.

It also has basic editing capabilities. In slide preview mode, you can insert a new slide and duplicate or delete existing ones. To edit the text in your slides, you must switch to outline mode -- and you can do no formatting. Note that if you're in outline mode, you have to go back to slide preview mode to create, copy, or delete a slide.

The result is that DocsToGo is fine for touchup work on existing presentations; you can also create a basic text-only presentation that you might use as the starting point for a slideshow to which you add images and formatting on the desktop. But that's all.

The verdict: The only choice is DocsToGo, which can at least do the basics.

The best PDF markup program for the iPhone
There are dozens of apps to open PDF documents on the iPhone, but since the built-in Preview app does that for mail attachments, and most Wi-Fi file-sharing apps also preview PDF documents, what you really want is one that can mark up PDF files, adding sticky notes and the like.

That app is GoodReader ($3). You can do most of the markup as you would in Adobe Reader, such as notes, highlights, and even free-form shapes (such as to circle an item). Once you get the hang of using your finger like a mouse for such actions, the app is easy to use.

GoodReader is not just a PDF markup app. It can also view Office files, text files, and pictures and play audio files; plus, it comes with a Wi-Fi file-sharing capability to transfer documents to your computer.

Note that GoodReader is not a universal app, so you'll need to buy a separate version for the iPad.

Additional utilities most everyone should have
The iPhone can't open Zip files -- an amazing omission in the iPad as well. There are several apps that can unzip files, but the best for the iPhone is ZipBox Pro ($2), which is straightforward to use and also works on the iPad.

If you view native Photoshop files, such as for page layout, Web, or presentation projects, get the Air Files app ($1), which also offers Wi-Fi file-sharing and basic drawing capabilities. (As you can see, Wi-Fi file sharing is built into lots of apps!) Note that Air Files does not run on the Pad; you'll need the separate AirFilesHD app ($1) for that device.

Putting it altogether: The ideal office suite
Given that the DocsToGo suite does it all well enough, the ideal combination was easy to pick: DocsToGo, GoodReader, and ZipBox-Pro. Add to the mix Air Files if you need to view Photoshop files.

This article, "The right office apps for the iPhone at work," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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