5 office suites for Android phones

With these five apps, you can take your work with you on your smartphone. But how useful are the apps?

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Smart Office

Picsel

Price: $9.95

Other versions: None

Also available in versions for iOS and Symbian devices, Smart Office has a heavy focus on user-interface eye candy. The suite's centerpiece is a page-flipping feature that shows thumbnails of the pages of your text document (or sheets of your spreadsheet) arranged in a carousel-style display similar to the way iTunes shows album covers. This looks great and is actually useful -- swiping through the pages or sheets works smoothly and quickly.

Smart Office

Smart Office

Click to view larger image

Along with accessing your Google Docs files, Smart Office is the second Android office suite in this roundup that lets you load documents from your Dropbox account directly into Smart Office.

To create a new document, you tap thumbnails of templates, some of which have convenient preset elements. For the word processor app, there are templates for a business letter and report document. The presentation templates are just cosmetic -- you get a choice only between light- or dark-colored background themes. But two of the spreadsheet templates have useful functions already built into them to help track your expenses or chart your data.

The spreadsheet app sets individual sheets as tabs along the top of the screen, so tapping through them feels as familiar as interacting with a Web browser's tabbed UI. Among all the spreadsheet apps in these Android office suites, Smart Office felt the speediest -- when swiping through a sheet, the scrolling was smooth and instant. As you edit or enter data into a cell, a toolbar pops up along the bottom of the screen with buttons to tap to adjust formatting (of elements including alignment, numbers or text), add or remove columns or rows, and insert formulae.

In the presentation app, you can select from 14 preset shapes (such as arrows, squares or stars). Its user interface sets it apart from the other office suites' presentation apps: A stream of thumbnails of the slides in your presentation can be evoked and runs along the right side of the screen; you can quickly scroll through vertically and tap on each to jump to that slide.

Despite all these great features, Smart Office's word processor isn't as feature-rich as OfficeSuite Pro's or even Document To Go's. You can adjust font characteristics (color, size, style, type), insert bulleted and numbered lists -- and that's about it. Like Quickoffice Pro, you can use your smartphone's camera to take a photo to insert into your text documents (but not also into your presentation slides, which Quickoffice allows).

Smart Office loaded all the Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files I threw at it, managing to correctly render the embedded images (i.e., pictures, charts, and layout graphics).

I liked how Smart Office implements the selection of text and graphical elements for cutting, pasting and especially moving. You double-tap on the text or graphic, and it becomes highlighted. A toolbar opens along the bottom of the screen and lets you cut, copy and paste. To drag and move the text or image to another area in your document, you tap and drag a hand icon, which is tethered to the frame highlighting the text or image. No other office suite in this roundup features such an efficient means to move objects in documents.

The bottom line

Smart Office has a good-looking interface that is useful, and it stands out among the other Android suites in this roundup by how well it handles the selection and moving of objects. It's too bad that the word processor is lacking.

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