avatarby Tab TimesFebruary 11, 20120 comments

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing native MS Office apps to ARM-based versions of Windows 8. That’s exciting news, and we can’t wait.

But what about today’s needs? For IT departments, office workers, and anyone interested in using their iPad as a productivity tool, the Office-compatible app suite is an essential tool.

The defining Office apps for the iPad are Apple’s own Pages, Numbers and Keynote, collectively known as the iWork suite. However, iWork isn’t the only alternative for iPad users. Below, in order of preference, TabTimes examines 7 promising alternatives.

Smart Office


Smart Office is a solid choice for basic content needs. It doesn’t offer much in the way of formatting and other style options. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to be properly optimized for the iPad interface. Includes sync capabilities with Google Docs and Dropbox.


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For some reason this app stays locked in portrait mode. If you can get past that hurdle, OliveOfficeBasicHD is a practical, workable office suite for viewing existing files. From an access perspective, it uses a browser-based file transfer approach, which works well.

Documents to Go


The basic version of Docs To Go needs to be paired with the desktop version in order to transfer documents, and it also lacks the ability to do presentations. The premium version adds sync options and Powerpoint compatibility. Overall formatting and presentation options are limited, and it doesn’t compare well against other apps that we tested in terms of usability.

Documents Pro 7

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Even the free version of this program includes Google Docs syncing and browser-based sharing. Unfortunately it seems to be locked in a portrait only mode. Not a bad choice, but the available formatting options are too basic for higher levels of production.

Office 2 HD


Office 2 HD is a solid complement for those that need full Office suite functionality. One particularly interesting feature it has that Apple’s iWork does not is the ability to share files directly between an iPad and your desktop. Provides sync capabilities with Google Docs, Dropbox, myDisk, Box, Alfresco and MobileMe, but not iCloud. From an apps perspective, it’s easy to add images to documents, but there is no export to PDF. There are no transition options for the presentation backgrounds.

What is your favorite iPad app for working with Office documents?