Documents To Go Brings Doc Editing to iPhone

Documents To Go® Free - View & edit Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) (AppStore Link)
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Documents To Go® Free - View & edit Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Developer: DataViz, Inc
Price: free Download on the App Store
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Documents to Go mobile office
It has been a long wait for Dataviz's Documents To Go to arrive in the App Store. Documents To Go has been the standard on mobile platforms such as the BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Mobile for  years. Users of the iPhone have griped since the phone's debut about the lack of a comprehensive document editing app; especially since this technology has existed for nearly a decade (Office Mobile first debuted on the Pocket PC in 2000).

But the wait is finally over, and it has been (almost) worth it. Documents To Go does not disappoint in its interface and usability. Some of its features are not new to iPhone users: viewing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can be done from within the mail app and other existing App Store offerings. However, there are few competitors when it comes to creating and editing a document.

It is refreshing to use an app that works so well right out of the gate. Too many in the App Store debut with bugs and glitches and do not seem to hit their stride until version 2.0. Probably the biggest drawback to the current version is that it only supports editing documents. Spreadsheets are promised in a future version. On the upside Documents To Go works with nearly any version of documents: including the .docx format of Office 2007.

Documents To Go has a bit of a learning curve - it is essentially trying to be a mobile version of Microsoft Word. But the interface works well. There are three pages of options on the task bar right above the keyboard. You simply swipe to display the other choices. Highlighting is nice (it was pretty cool to have this feature a couple of days in advance of the OS 3.0 update) but can get a bit cumbersome if you don't have laser-like precision with your finger taps. Double tapping selects a word and triple tapping selects a paragraph. If you tap and hold anywhere on screen it will bring up a magnifying glass. Once it starts to pulse, then drag it to select text.

Downloading the desktop client is essential to get the most from Documents To Go. You can select folders that synchronize with your iPhone over a Wi-Fi connection. But there is a 100MB recommended ceiling, so don't plan on syncing your entire My Documents folder.

Documents To Go is available in two versions: the main difference being the more expensive option includes support for Microsoft Exchange attachments. So if you use email through Exchange, it would be well worth it to have the ability to edit attachments from your inbox. Dataviz also promises that if you buy Documents To Go you will receive an upgrade to Excel editing when it becomes available. And at $4.99 the scaled down version is quite the good deal.

Image Gallery: Documents To Go® Free - View & edit Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

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  • Orion

    Really? You gave it this high a mark when it's lacking so much that's already part of other text editors available on the AppStore? What about transferring files to MobileMe? Where's the ability to change fonts attributes beyond simple bold, italics and color? In short how does it get as high a mark as your review of QuickOffice when DTG looks and feels more like a Beta product?

    Even the interface to select text for editing is clunky at best.

    I too had high hopes for this title but that shouldn't cloud a review that many count on before making a purchase.

  • http://derekwalter.com Derek Walter

    Hi Orion,

    One person's essential features may be unimportant to another. Such is the case with software. You may have been disappointed in the lack of MobileMe support, but there are many things Docs To Go does that QuickOffice does not. For example, even though Docs To Go does not sync files with Apple's $99 a year service, it does support the 2007 versions of Word and Excel, which will appeal to a far broader audience. And QuickOffice currently lacks support for iWork 09 and the ability to transfer iWork docs through Wi-Fi Connect.

    As for file transfer, Docs To Go does for free essentially what you have to pay for with MobileMe. Files transfer pretty seamlessly through the desktop software, which works on PC and Mac. It makes far more sense at launch to offer syncing ability for a wider base of users. And many would find QuickOffice's inability to use the built-in spellchecker as a deal breaker (along with the hefty $19.99 price tag).

    My overall experience with Docs To Go was positive, and I imagine that some of the issues you raised may be addressed through future updates. And not everyone is in love with QuickOffice - probably why Walt Mossberg says it "needs work" and found getting documents into the app "a pain." My experience gives me some optimism for Docs To Go, but not enough to leave me clouded.

  • Aaron

    I don't have either D2G or Quickoffice yet, but here's something important to understand about syncing (I've used D2G on other platforms): if the iPhone version is like other versions, you can make edits on the DESKTOP or on the DEVICE, and those EDITS are synchronized! You don't have to replace the original file on one side or the other. Also, you can have a complex document with all kinds of things that aren't supported on the MOBILE device that are preserved when you EDIT on the mobile...you can make CHANGES to the document on the mobile and those CHANGES are sent back to your main document on the DESKTOP which still has all the unsupported items (enormous pics, footnotes, etc).

    Can someone confirm that the iphone version of D2G functions like the above (as it did on other platforms)? Also, can someone with QuickOffice talk about what happens to non-supported parts of documents that are edited on the phone? For example, if there are footnotes in the document and you edit it on the iPhone, then copy back to your computer, are the footnotes preserved? And am I correct that it isn't syncing CHANGES, only copying the full document back and forth?

    Thanks