Release of Microsoft Office for iPad was a big step towards making iPad a real productive device. But the fact that you need to purchase Office 365 license for creating and editing documents with Microsoft Office, makes it difficult for home users to get benefit from it.
So the real question is, do we have free alternatives to ‘Microsoft Office for iPad’ available which are equally feature rich and easy to use.
Here we are going to check best free office packages for iPad and check their features one by one.
1) Documents Reader By Readdle –
Readdle Document Reader is a wonderful Document reader. It does not create or edit any type of documents (except text files) and it is listed here just to make sure that you do not confuse it with any other Document app which allows you to edit documents.
So if you only want to open and view all different types of documents you can get Document Reader by Readdle. It is available only for iOS.
– Can read Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Video Files, Image File
– Good File Manager
– Supports Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, WebDev, Office 365 and many more
– Available only for iOS
2) Documents and Documents Pro 7 By Savy Soda –
Documents and Documents Pro 7 both look exactly same except for the fact that Documents app comes with light theme (white background) while Document Pro 7 has got dark theme (black background). Apart from the theme colors it is difficult to find any other major difference even in features, however Documents by SavySoda is a paid application being sold for $2.99 while Document Pro 7 is available for free.
Documents/Documents Pro 7 offers integration with multiple cloud services – Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box.
However accessing any of these cloud drives was not very smooth. It prompts to login every time you reopen the app. Therefore these drives will not remain mounted to the app and will require to be reauthorized every time you want to use.
Documents/Documents Pro allows to create Document files and spreadsheet files. But biggest disappointment was that, it was only able to create Rich Text file (.rtf) and for spreadsheet it created Comma Separated sheet (.csv) file.
Result is that you can not have any advance formatting and features such as inserting images and tables in documents and spreadsheets.
Specially when you consider that SavySoda Documents app is a paid app, it becomes a big disadvantage.
– Allows to access files on PC and Mac using WiFi.
– Gives you a drawing app.
– Authentication of Cloud drive is not retained and every time app is restarted, it needs to be re-authorized.
– Does not support editing or creating Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
3) Zoho Docs –
Zoho Docs accesses only Zoho Files and it does not connect to any other Cloud storage. Zoho Docs opens files but they are read only and you can not edit or create a new file.
However it gives option to upload files on Zoho cloud from iPad. Zoho Docs behaves more like SkyDrive or Google Drive which allows to upload files or open files without any editing functionality. Zoho Docs is available for iOS as well as for Android.
– Good for accessing your Zoho documents on the go.
– Can not create or edit files. Its only for viewing purpose.
4) Zoho Writer –
Zoho Writer integrates perfectly with Zoho Docs and Dropbox. Any other cloud storage is not supported.
Zoho writer is only for creating Doc files, which means you can not edit or open any Spreadsheet or Presentations using this App. Unfortunately Zoho is not providing any similar app for creating Spread sheet or Presentation on iOS.
Interface of Zoho writer is pretty simplistic and supports editing Microsoft Word files. Its interface is touch friendly which makes it smooth to work with the app.
Its features are neatly arranged on top of keyboard area, and you can scroll horizontally to see more options. Zoho Writer allows to -add images, drawings, tables, hyperlinks, allows to align text, change font settings etc.
– Good app for creating and editing word documents with touch friendly interface.
– Limited only to Zoho Docs and Dropbox. No other Cloud storage is supported.
– Limited only to edit Word documents. No app available for Excel or PowerPoint files.
5) Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheet –
Google recently splitted its Google Drive’s document editing capabilities into Google Docs and Google Sheet. So now we need to have these two apps installed on your iPad if you want to edit any document kept on Google Drive.
Google Docs allows you to word with Document files. It is plain and simple as much restricted in features as you see in its online document editor. Only basic document editing features are given.
Google sheet is also a very basic Speadsheet editor. You can open your MS Excel file here but don’t expect it to have complex Excel like features. However it supports formulas, but nothing more than that.
Neither of the two apps (Google Docs and Google Sheet) can be used to access files stored on any other cloud service except Google Drive. So you can not directly access your Dropbox files or OneDrive files using Google Docs and Google Sheet.
– Brand Google.
– Files can be accessed from anywhere Desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android devices.
– Features are not extensive but quite balanced and easy to use.
– Opens Microsoft Word and Excel files effortlessly. Can open many other file formats also.
– Does not support any cloud storage except Google Drive.
– Advance editing features not available.
6) CloudOn –
CloudOn comes with a minimalistic interface and has got support for all famous Cloud drives – Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, Hightail.
Once you authorise any of your cloud accounts and attach it with CloudOn, you can access its files and folders without any hiccup.
CloudOn is a good alternative for Microsoft Office 365, because it supports all file formats such as – Word Document, Excel Document and PowerPoint documents. You can create either of these files, or edit files if its already on cloud drive.
One big difference between any other office app and CloudOn is that it works by streaming content to the app. Therefore it can provide you almost whole MS Office functionality on your iPad.
You can create documents on CloudOn with .docx extension. It allows to do text formatting, change style, change alignment, insert image and much more.
Similarly CloudOn can edit any Excel file and you get many options. It supports formulas, and as soon as you start typing, you get a list of formulas as suggestions. However many of its advance options require you to buy the paid version which is CloudOn Pro. Similarly Presentation editor was giving only a limited set of free options, for anything attractive you will see a Pro tag asking you to buy paid version of the application.
– Supports Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint
– Streaming allows to provide all office functionalities on iPad
– Can be a bit sluggish with slow internet connection.
7) hopTo –
As soon as you start hopTo, it will ask you to connect your Cloud accounts with the application. It supports – Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive and Egnyte. You can also connect your desktop computer with hopTo if you install its File Connector on your PC/Mac.
HopTo has got colorful and bright interface which matches its green icon. Interface is simple to use and grouped based on relevance such as – Search,My Documents, My Cloud. It groups all your Cloud Accounts in ‘My Cloud’ area.
You can open any Word or Excel document and edit it, clicking on the plus icon on right top will add a new tab to the application. This tabular interface allows hopTo to open multiple applications at once and work on them.
You can create or edit a Word file. It gives you option to change formatting, insert images from iPad, Insert Tables, set colors and alignment etc. One special feature is that you can use Google image search within the application and add images in the document. You can also Track Changes in the document by setting ‘Track Changes On’ property.
Editing Spreadsheet with hopTo is a pleasure. It works smoothly and its interface is very touch friendly. It supports formulas in spreadsheets with a special keyboard. hopTo will also give suggestions on functions which can be used. However features are pretty basic and good enough for basic editing purposes.
Overall hopTo office suite can be a good free alternative to Office for iPad and has got very touch friendly design which will help to enhance productivity. HopTo is currently available only for iOS and for android they are planning to launch their app soon.
– Very touch friendly interface, makes it easy to work with Document or Spreadsheet.
– Support almost all famous Cloud Storage.
– Google Image Search inbuilt.
– Search bar to find documents within Cloud storage.
– Sometimes feels a big sluggish in performance.
– Can not create Presentations, no support for PowerPoint.
8) Polaris Office –
Polaris Office is a feature rich free office package for iPad. It supports Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and allows you to perform even complex operations with ease. Polaris office supports Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.net, OneDrive and ucloud. You can also add WebDAV locations.
Working with MS Word files makes you feel that how touch friendly this app is, and using its functionalities are very easy. Document editor allows – changing Font settings, Paragraph Alignment, inserting images/Shape/Table/Charts, copy Format, ad comments, different table styles and much more.
Working with Excel file is also smooth. Adding a formula was quite simple with its easy to use cell selectors. With Polaris office you get all formulas grouped and listed on its formula bar, which can be accessed simply by clicking on its ‘fx’ icon.
Spreadsheet app allows to choose – Font settings, Data Formats, Alignment, Cell format, Add Picture, Shape, Chart, Shift cell/row/column, Insert Row/Column, Delete Row/Column, Move Column, Hide Column any many other features.
Polaris Presentation creator is a powerful tool for making beautiful presentations. You can work with Styles, Images, Shapes, Tables, Charts, Transition effects, Shadows, Reflections, z-index setting and almost everything which you would expect to see in a desktop based presentation creator.
Overall Polaris Office is a beautiful and powerful office suit for you iPad. Polaris Office can easily be declared as the best free alternative to Microsoft office for iPad suit. But it has got one big limitation.
Polaris office does not allow you to directly work on any Cloud drive, you must keep all documents on their cloud storage if you want to edit them. By default it offers only 100MB of cloud storage which can be extended up to 400MB if you install its desktop sync application.
For additional storage you need to purchase their paid plan.
– Easy to use and very touch friendly interface.
– Most feature rich editor for editing and creating Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
– Supports almost all Cloud Storages.
– Must use its own cloud space and can not store files on any other cloud storage.
– It offers only 100MB free storage space, you can get more 300MB by installing its desktop app. For more storage you will need to buy paid plan.
9) Quickoffice by Google –
QickOffice is now a part of Google. This office suit is also good enough to be an alternative to Microsoft Office 365. It supports Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations. You can open any MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint file using this app.
Document editor of QuickOffice allows to create .docx file and gives you option to set alignment and Font settings, insert images, Track changes, align paragraph and much more.
Similarly Spreadsheet editor allows to use formulas, merge cells, insert new rows and columns, add tables, cell data types etc. Selecting cells and working with the spreadsheet is very convenient and it can be a true productivity tool.
Quickoffice Presentation creator is very similar to MS PowerPoint in its interface. Along with images you get shapes, flowchart and other such figures to add to presentation.
Overall QuickOffice is a great office package, however biggest limitation is that it supports only Google Drive and no other Cloud storage. Google has stopped development of this application and planning to take this app off the stores soon.
– Supports Word, Excel and PowerPoint file editing and creation.
– Integrates with Google Drive.
– Easy to use touch friendly interface.
– Supports only Google Drive.
– Not being developed anymore by Google.
– Google is planning to kill this app soon after Google Docs and Google Sheet become mature enough.
10) WPS Office –
WPS Office used to be called Kingsoft Office and Kingsoft has been creating office packages for all different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile, Tablet) for quite long.
WPS Office for iPad a free Microsoft office alternative for iPad. It gives you option to create Document File, Presentation File and Spreadsheet files. Interface of WPS office is very clean and nicely organized. You can get all different options at the bottom of the screen.
Once you choose ‘All Files’ option, you can access locally stored files as well as you can check cloud storage based files. WPS Office supports – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and WebDAV locations.
Once you authenticate any of the Cloud Storage services you can easily edit any of the files stored there and once you save it, WPS office will upload the file to back on cloud.
WPF Office suite is fully compatible with any Microsoft Word, Excel or Powerpoint file. When you open any file, this office package will open it only in read mode. So to start editing, you need to click on Pen icon at the top right corner of screen.
Document editor is nice and give you all majorly used options, such as Font Settings, Paragraph Alignment settings, Changing color and background, insert images, insert Textboxes, Undo/Re-do, numbered list, bulleted list etc. It also shows Page breaks, so its easier to figure out how it will look like when you print.
However I could not find a way to insert Tables in the document, not sure if its just me or they do not have support for tables.
WPS Spreadsheet editor is responsive and allows you to add functions, gives you list of functions grouped in categories like Financial, Date & Time etc, add Charts with support for different Bar Charts, Line Charts and Pie Charts, insert Row/Column, insert Image. Selecting cells was very easy with its touch friendly interface, in fact it was easiest because of a unique halo selector (when you click on selector dot of a cell a halo surrounding your finger will appear making it easy to select cells below it), which you see only in this app.
WPS presentation creator is easy to use, it allows to add different slid layouts, add photos, add text boxes, Share playing which allows to play presentation over multiple devices. However you will still feel that few advance features are missing.
WPS Office package comes with a Helper segment. From here you can access additional options such as transfer files over Wifi, Passcode lock, Clear Cache etc. WPS office is available for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android.
– Supports all major Cloud Drives.
– Supports Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
– Touch friendly UI makes it easy to use even for complex operations.
– Additional features like Passcode protection and File transfer over Wifi.
– Can not add Table to Documents.
– Advance features not available, good for only basic editing purposes.
To summarise, only apps which were good enough to be considered as Microsoft Office alternative for iPad were – CloudOn, HopTo, Polaris Office, QuickOffice and WPS Office.
One application which came out as the most feature rich office app for iPad is Polaris Office. If you want to experience maximum features you can choose Polaris Office, however you will need to live with two big limitations first you can not store your files on any other Cloud storages as you are forced to use only Polaris cloud space, and second is that you get only 100MB free space from Polaris office. So ultimately you have to buy its paid subscription for using it in long run.
As a true free Office packages best three options were – QuickOffice, HopTo and WPS Office. If you consider the fact that Google can discontinue QuickOffice anytime in near future and HopTo office has got no presentation creator and PowerPoint file editor, the best option comes out to be WPS Office.
As a complete package WPS Office stands out to be the best free alternative to Microsoft Office for iPad and it is truly a great office package with support for almost all devices. So you can use WPS Office from your Windows, MAC, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android devices. Kingsoft has been making office package since quite long, so this WPS office package is mature application taking care of user’s needs.
Which office package you are using on iPad, let us know through comments.