While there are lots of iPad applications that lets you play around with your Microsoft Office documents, Smart Office 2 in one of the most popular free business app in this category. Recently topping the free apps chart section, I decided to download the 16MB app and give it a try. After using Smart Office 2 for a few hours I had some mixed reactions about the software which I will explain in greater details in the later half of the post.
When you download and launch Smart Office 2 for the first time you are presented with a space themed weird looking screen that clearly lacks proper definition and explanation of all the icons, their functions and so forth. As a matter of fact one thing which I realized is that there is a lack of in-app help guide so be prepared to create your won learning curve. I feel that this is one area which the Smart Office 2 developers should not have neglected. The good thing is though, we all used Microsoft Office at some point of our lives so the learning curve is not that difficult once you get the hang of it and find out where your default toolbars are present.
You can view and edit any word document, power point presentation and excel spreadsheets. The app also lets you create completely new documents that are compatible with all versions of Office. Documents can directly be grabbed from DropBox and can also be stored inside your iPad. I really liked the cover flow style preview layout that really makes a lot easier to find out the exact stuff you are looking for. My neighbor is into hardcore digital taxation, free efile makers and stuff, when I showed him Smart Office 2 he said ” I finally have something useful on my iPad that I can use on a regular basis”. Smart Office 2 takes care of a wider range of audience whether it’s accountants or just students collecting and editing notes.
Pros and Cons of Smart Office 2
As I mentioned before, the welcome section is really confusing as you need to swipe your fingers in every possible direction to find out what exactly is going on. The Main Screen allows you to view your documents, create an account with Smart Office 2, manage your Dropbox syncing and includes some other useful options. Scroll the left hand section of the screen till you find an icon that looks like Help. You will find a user guided that basically shuts down the application and launches the browser to present you will all the information. There is another power point slider in this segment that demonstrates the basic gestures and quick tips to start using Smart Office like a pro. You also get cool options like testing your iPad screen to be compatible with the projector and the printer. Yes, Smart Office supports airplay so you can share a presentation with others in a conference room. Lastly, the Microsoft Office documents look fuzzy for some reason and this will turn off any Retina Display user who is used to seeing things sharp and clear.
Fortunately, when it comes to features, Smart Office 2 doesn’t disappoint and you can clearly understand some of the improvements from the original version. The slides are previewed on the left and changed in the slide thumbnail are updated instantly. The top editing toolbar (if I may call so) is very neat and compact as well. You can add pictures, resize them, add custom shapes and lots more. For excel, spreadsheets can be used to create custom functions, format the blocks and other usual stuff.
Overall, Smart Office 2 is a great free solution for working with office docs on your iPad. Although it lacks a lot of features and advanced stuff, it’s still scores high in our cost to feature ration since its not punching a hole in your pocket. However, if you are willing to spend a few extra dollars then there are lots of other way better solutions in the App Store. Let us not forget that Microsoft is also rumored to introduce a brand new version of their Office Software Suite for iOS in the first quarter of 2013 after it’s initial delay.