Editing on a Tablet, Part 1: CloudOn
Word workers with a mobile lifestyle have long desired a good way to edit documents on their iPads or other tablets. Microsoft’s Office Mobile for iPhone was released in June, but is limited to Office 365–subscribing iPhone users, and is not iPad friendly (see a previous Tech Tip for more information, including a few other limitations). A similar cloud-based, Office-accessing app could be a better option, but some teams find they aren’t missing Word at all when they leave Office at home and use a different workflow and platform. In this series, we’ll look at options for both approaches and one in between.
Option 1: Accessing Microsoft Word through CloudOn
CloudOn is a cloud-based, Office-accessing app that works much like Office Mobile but isn’t tied to an Office 365 subscription or SkyDrive. You can access your Office documents from SkyDrive or from Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
Once your document is open, the layout and interface in CloudOn appear as simplified versions of Office’s own (see above). You can track edits, add comments, and accept/reject changes that others have tracked. You can also access your email contacts from within the app, so emailing the work to a colleague is quick and easy. The FileSpace feature lets you view all of the activity (comments and edits) related to a file. Early stability issues seem to have been fixed, but a good Internet connection is required. The app is free for personal use and available for Apple or Android devices.
Editing a Word doc in CloudOn is familiar and comfortable—for the first several minutes. After that, the familiarity no longer hides some of the discomfort. Although the switch to a touchscreen and virtual keyboard is inherently frustrating for those who are used to flying through a document using [nonvirtual] keyboard shortcuts, some of the issues go beyond that learning curve. The document text isn’t as crisp as editing-tired eyes would like and the touchscreen function is intuitive but isn’t always responsive enough. In-app access to email contacts is a nice feature, but emailing documents back and forth seems like an overwrought and dated workflow these days.
Verdict: Very good for using a layover to finish an intensive edit started in Word, but unlikely to free a copyeditor from the routine of full-featured, screen-and-keyboard, document editing.
Tune in to next week’s Tech Tip for more options and approaches for editing on a tablet.
Product image via CloudOn and copyright CloudOn, Inc.