While Microsoft has been the leader in terms of its Office product offerings so much so that any document file is characterised as Word or spreadsheet file as an Excel, there have been new entrants in the market that have been giving it stiff competition. MS still reigns in ease of access—users have got accustomed to the interface—however, it only allows limited functionality in terms of its free offerings on Android or iOS phones and tablets. Ishaan Gera takes a look at some of the Microsoft competitors in the office space.
In the last decade of its existence, Google has come a long way especially after the acquisition of QuickOffice in June 2012. A key feature of the service is that it is available on all platforms and can even be accessed online via Google Drive. Although the user face is simple with a panel beneath which gives the essential commands and formatting tools, Google docs do not offer much in terms of usability. The interface is limited and there is little that you can do besides light editing and formatting of spreadsheet. Also you will have to download each and every app in order to enjoy all the functions unlike other apps that offer all-in-one feature. The app also lacks in terms of accessibility as you will have to juggle between the menu option for some commands, but Google is able to compensate as it has one of the widest selection of templates when compared to other Office Suites.
OfficeSuite + PDF Editor
OfficeSuite is one of the only apps that comes close to desktop version of using the Microsoft products. With most of us being familiar with desktop platform of Microsoft office, OfficeSuite becomes the easiest to use. Also the user interface is very friendly with most of the formatting tools and options available just by tap on the screen. The service also offers text to speech option. But one of the key highlights is the dictionary and the web lookup integrated in the app. Though you will have to download Oxford Dictionary, it is worth the effort and time. The app also provides quite a number of templates to choose from and experiment with in all the cases. It also sports a pen feature but with only limited styles. Although the free app is more than enough for you, one can always go for the paid version which will still be cheaper than the MS Office and allows PDF to word and excel conversions, Camera to PDF scanner, image editor, ODF and CSV support.
WPS Office + PDF
Besides Google, WPS is the only free offering in the office apps. WPS also offers good amount of features for editing including its selections of charts for its spreadsheet program. The app also offers encryption for all the files and is one of the few to offer conversion to PDF. Also it is the only app in the offering to allow sharing via all platforms including Evernote, Twitter and WhatsApp. All one has to do is select the text and click the share option and WPS will display a list of options on the app. WPS also offers a pen feature for scribbling. But the interface is a bit hard to use given no shortcuts or formatting options are available and one has to switch between the keyboard and feature panel to search for options. WPS does not offer any templates for either its word, spreadsheet or presentation files, it also lacks a highlight option for PDFs.
Polaris Office + PDF
Polaris much like OfficeSuite also works on a freemium model. The app also has much more templates to offer across all file types and has more layout options, but loses out to others in terms of accessibility. It is not an easy to use service and takes time to understand. Polaris is one of the few to offer a footnote and endnote layout in the app besides a pen and a highlight feature. Although it has limited fonts in the free mode, Polaris allows sharing and editing of documents with a group of people much like Google does. Another advantage is the password protect feature of the app along with the text-to-speech option. Although Polaris offers much more than OfficeSuite does in the paid segment including cloud storage of 1 GB and accessibility on upto
nine devices, it may not be worth 40 euros and you can certainly
opt for OfficeSuite or Office365 in similar price range.