31 Mar Office 2: iPad Word Processing Alternative for Lawyers
Over the weekend I had a chance to try out one of the first non-Apple word processors optimized for the iPad: Office² HD developed by Byte (iTunes link). This entire post was written using the app’s word processor (images were added and HTML cleaned up on the desktop). As Byte describes the product:
Office² HD is a Microsoft Word compatible word processor and Microsoft Excel compatible spreadsheet for the iPad.
The other two major players in this field, QuickOffice and Documents To Go, have not yet released iPad specific versions of their respective products. So, Office² HD gets first mover advantage in what will likely become a very competitive space. No PowerPoint compatible spreadsheet program is included in Office² HD at this time.
On the word processing side, Office² HD has the basic word processing features that you would expect, including:
- bold, italic and underline formatting colored text and highlighting
- basic font choices and text sizing
- basic paragraph formatting (justification, numbering, bullets, indenting)
- ability to insert tables and images
- document search
- last 100 action undo and redo
Probably the most notable omission in the word processing program of interest to lawyers is the inability to display or create tracked changes. Another omission that will be noticed by many lawyers is he ability to create more “outline” (I. A. 1. A. i.) or “contract” (1., 1.1, 1.1.1., etc) style numbering.
Couple features I really like about the word processor:
There is a comprehensive help system onboard that can be displayed I. The left pane when in landscape mode. The help is concise, annotated with pictures and hyperlinked. While most of the features are fairly straightforward, it is a new interface with a learning curve.
- The button bar at the top is easy and intuitive to use. Only a handful of choices are available, but additional features can be accessed by swiping the button bar.
- Unlike Pages for iPad, the button bar containing the various formatting functions is conveniently available in portrait and landscape modes (Pages for iPad obey inexplicably only reveals the button bar in portrait mode, making for lots of flipping and rotating of the iPad if you like to format as you type)
I successfully emailed a simple doc from the program and was able to open the file without problem in Pages (desktop and iPad), Microsoft Word and in my file viewer of choice (GoodReader). Opening basic documents worked fine, but the app did struggle with imports of more complexly formatted documents (just like Pages for iPad). Office² HD connects to your iDisk, box.net, Google Docs or similar cloud based service but does not connect with Dropbox.
I had some problems inserting images. The program allows you to images saved onto your iPad. Once selected, you are offered a Move and Scale panel, but I was unable to do either. Images larger than the mask offered by the app were simply cropped. I was also unable to adjust image size once the image was inserted. By contrast, Pages for iPad handles images and masks very well. I don’t think this is a major issue for legal writers as inserting images is not something done often.
If you never work in Pages, then Office² HD may be a good choice for you as an iPad word processor. Not only would using Office² HD eliminate the need for exporting to .doc format, but Office² HD is also considerably cheaper (each of the iWork apps for iPad is $9.99). The integrated file manager is also a plus. While the absence of track changes support is disappointing, none of the word processors for the iPhone OS can do so either.
At this point, I am only reviewing the word processor. I plan to tackle the spreadsheet app at another time. You can purchase the Office² HD suite for $7.99 in the App Store. If you don’t need spreadsheet or advanced file access capabilities, you can get Docs² as a stand alone for $5.99. The spreadsheet and file manager aspects of Office² HD can be purchased individually for $5.99 and $3.99, respectively.