Stay productive on the move with apps

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

This week I am going to talk about productivity software for mobile devices. In fact to prove that you can create useful content, but can also be productive on a mobile device, I have written this week’s column entirely on my smartphone.

Why have I done this? Microsoft have recently opened their gates to Android and iOS, by giving free access to Office Mobile. This is a bold step by Microsoft and something that has been wanted for a long time.

They are late to the party on mobile though, so here is a round-up of three offerings available on both Android and iOS.

Let’s start with Office Mobile. It uses Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service, so everything you create will be stored there. You can read any Word, Excel or PowerPoint file, although you can only create Word and Excel documents (with the docx and xlsx file formats).

Editing Word documents is a very basic affair with simple text formatting only and don’t expect any of the advanced features of Excel either. It is early days though and hopefully Microsoft will add more features over time.

Next up is Google Drive, which is cloud storage and productivity software all rolled into one. Like Office Mobile you can view presentations, but not edit them. Document editing is much more advanced though. With Drive you can change fonts and do all the usual formatting. You can also change text alignment, add tables and bullet points.

Lastly is an app called Quip. Quip has been designed as a word processing and messaging system. While you cannot create spreadsheets, it does do documents really well. It is the only app of the three that allows you to add pictures to your documents using your mobile. It is also the only app of the three that allows you to mention other Quip users, who will then get notified. You can even change layout styles for entire documents.

Another nice little touch to Quip are the personalised emails from the CEO at Quip, making you feel at home.

One final note which affects all three is typing. You may be thinking that it is a pain to use a touch screen. The reverse is true and it is all down to predictive text. Simply, writing this I hardly wrote any entire words myself. You can be productive and it is fast!

This column was written on an Android smartphone, so there may be differences on tablets and IOS. If you have used these apps, please share your experiences in the comments on the website.

Alan Stainer