Thursday, February 9, 2012

Excel Apps for Android: QuickOffice

I've been thinking about tablet devices might support the kinds of tasks found in school settings. Whether you're a teacher capturing notes about student performance, an administrator gathering data for the big picture of happenings at your school, or a student putting together an assignment, there are opportunities to move Excel off the computer and on to a mobile device. In this series of posts, I'm looking at the options through the adult lens---as a teacher, how would I want to use the tablet and what app(s) would best support that work? We took a look at OfficeSuite. Now, let's talk about QuickOffice Pro.

First of all, this app comes in different flavours, depending upon the OS you have. QuickOffice Pro for Honeycomb Devices is $19.99; $14.99 for your phone. I grabbed the tablet version when Amazon had it as the free app of the day, but I have to say that it's a bummer to not have an app that can move between devices. Who wants to pay twice?

But QuickOffice Pro does have its charms. First of all, the file interface is much more user-friendly than OfficeSuite. This app instantly brings up a list of all the files on the device. I can quickly find what I want to open. Also, when you're using the spreadsheet part of the app, the options are more robust: more formula and formatting selections.

Let's put it through the same paces as OfficeSuite. Again, I'm using a version of the spreadsheet modeled in my Zero Effect post. First up, just the basic import. How does the spreadsheet look when opened on the tablet?

So far, we have several improvements over OfficeSuite. For one, the colours used when building the workbook transfer exactly. This sheet looks like the one I built in Excel. Unlike OfficeSuite, my graphs show up, too...but so does the hidden sheet named "grades." In this case, it's not such a big deal---I don't have anything on that worksheet. But in the grand scheme of things, I believe this could be a problem. If you're going to be sharing workbooks, you need to know that if you use either of these two apps, people may have access to information you thought would be "private."

Moving on...

What happens when we add data? Do the formulas still work? What about the conditional formatting included with the original workbook?

You'll need to click the image to embiggen, but in terms of the formulas: Yes. All of them are present and accounted for. They are all functional. Conditional formatting? Not so much, but I can live with that as long as I don't have to retype all the formulas. You'll notice, however, that the graphs aren't showing any change.

But what if I just want to use the app to view a completed spreadsheet?

Not too shabby. The graphs keep most of their original formatting. At least I don't have to rebuild them, like I did with OfficeSuite. The right justification in the cells does make numbers a bit difficult to view, but I can change that with the font settings option at the top.

All in all, I find this app to be a vast improvement over OfficeSuite. Would I pay $20 for it? Mebbe. I have to say that I'm a total cheapskate when it comes to apps---I stick with free, with the occasional $.99 splurge. However, if I was a heavy user of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint in the classroom, I think I would pony up so I could keep track of grading, review work, and look at upcoming lessons.

Next stop on our tour will be Documents to Go, with a final post about using Docs on the tablet.

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