Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Excel Apps for Android: OfficeSuite

While tablet devices are not substitutes for fully loaded computers and software, I think it's safe to say that they are beginning to carve out their own niche in various industries. As an educator, I can see the benefit of having a tablet computer to capture different aspects of the instructional day: formative assessment opportunities, attendance, notes/running records, productivity tasks. I might not expect the apps on a tablet to be as powerful as computing software, but I would want to know how the different devices and files could "talk" to one another to streamline my work.

At my current workplace, I have access to a Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Over the past few months, I've been watching Amazon's free app of the day and grabbing Office related apps to try out. And while I haven't given each one a rousing workout, I thought I would share what I have found over the next few posts.

First up is OfficeSuite Pro 5 by Mobile Systems ($9.99). While you can create workbooks from scratch, I decided to import a version of the spreadsheet from the last post. The only change I made was to add a worksheet called "grades." The worksheet was blank, but I hid it in the original Excel file. Here is the workbook in OfficeSuite Pro:

Notice anything? Yep, the hidden worksheet is no longer hidden (and is completely functional, to boot). And, if you'll recall, there were two graphs included at the bottom of the original sheet. They've gone buh-bye, too. However, the formatting looks similar to the original version. It wraps and resizes the text. Along the bottom, you can see the editing options. There are some simple text tools, justification, and a few other goodies. Here's a screenshot of the graphing options:

Now, let's try to add some data to the spreadsheet. The original had formulas included in the final two columns and the bottom row. Are they still there and functional?

When I double-tap in a cell, I get access to the keyboard so I can input data. However, even with only two data points, you can see that the conditional formatting isn't available in this app, and none of the original formulas work with the file. The good news is that you can type them in and they will function (and you can also recreate the graphs). The bad news is that you can type them in and have to recreate the graphs. I do have a keyboard for my tablet, but if I'm going to use that, I might as well pull out my netbook and just use Excel. Part of the benefit of using a tablet is its "handheld" nature. I don't really want to build a spreadsheet on my tablet. I want to be able to use an existing one. 

I can hear some of you asking yourself, "Self---what if I just used the tablet to view a completed spreadsheet?" Well, here is what you would see using OfficeSuite:

Oddly enough, the formula results all show up. OfficeSuite gives me all of the data (minus the conditional formatting), but not the graphs. If I rebuild those, they appear on separate worksheets. It's not an insurmountable issue---if your goal is just to be able to see a workbook instead of interact with it. Here is a graph of the attribute points. Once the graph is made, you can only make changes to the labels or the data range used. There's no control over the appearance.

This app has some very good reviews on Amazon. Would I recommend it? If you're just going to use it to view existing work (with plain Jane formulas), you'll be okay. If you're hoping to integrate it with your other devices, this one might not be the first choice. 

In the next posts, we'll take a look at QuickOffice, Documents to Go, and Docs. Have thoughts on OfficeSuite? Leave 'em in the comments.

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