The best office apps for Android

Microsoft finally got serious about mobile, and Android office contenders have been forced to keep up

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Google Docs/Sheets/Slides

Google's mobile office suite is lean and mean, with a distinct focus on cloud-centric work connected to the Google ecosystem.

Word processing

Docs' no-frills interface makes viewing and editing documents easy as can be -- as long as your needs are relatively basic. You'll have no trouble finding paragraph- and text-formatting options, spell-check and word-count functions, or commands for inserting simple tables into a page (though I do mean simple -- don't expect options for styling the table, splitting or merging cells, or even shading rows).

Android Office: Google Docs InfoWorld

Google Docs word processing on Android smartphone (left) and tablet (right)

The main document editor has unusual extras, too, like an Explore function that automatically looks up images and research related to topics in your document. Even on a phone -- regardless of your Android version -- you can view that info in a window alongside your work and insert snippets directly into your document.

What's missing, however, are more advanced word processing features that some business users may expect -- such as custom bullet formatting, headers and footers, columns, and footnotes.

Docs uses its own proprietary document format by default, but you can view and edit standard Word files within the app, which for the most part, works fine. Formatting is generally retained, and I've had no issues making edits, then saving a document back in the standard DOCX format. Even documents sent to me with Microsoft's Track Changes formatting in place work flawlessly with Docs: I can review edits, accept or reject changes, and make my own edits within the usual Track Changes parameters. That wasn't possible with Docs on Android in the recent past (curiously, it still doesn't seem possible with the web version of the app).

One area where Google's apps excel is in the realm of sharing and collaboration: In Docs, you can export any document into a standard DOCX or PDF format and share it directly to email or any other app, but you can also invite anyone to view a document with a simple web link that'll work in any browser, without the need for any specific local software. If you want your colleague to be able to edit the document, it's simply a matter of checking one extra box in your sharing invitation.

As long as the person has a Google account, he'll be able to work on the file with you in real time -- with any changes he makes showing up letter-by-letter on your screen as they're typed. Since Docs always syncs changes instantly and automatically, you can also access a document yourself from multiple devices simultaneously. As with the multiuser collaboration, your edits will show up in real time everywhere you're signed in.

At a Glance
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