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Which Android office suite is right for you?

Which Android office suite is right for you?

April 2015

The “Mobile First” philosophy has influenced business technology for some time. But when it comes to productivity on an Android, more professionals have preferred to put down their mobile devices and move to their desktops instead—until now. Commercial-grade Android tablets are ready to work, complete with hardware-enabled security, long battery life, and a wide range of business apps to choose from. But which Android apps are best for helping you work seamlessly in and out of the office?

Let’s take a look at your Android business productivity options:

Microsoft Office for Android
Manufacturer: Microsoft
Cost: Free Premium features require a Microsoft Office 365 subscription
Pros: Let’s start with the obvious: Office for Android offers seamless integration with all other Microsoft Office products—no document conversion necessary. It also includes a robust version of Outlook. Paired with an Office 365 subscription, it will allow you to access email and social networking services through hosted versions of Exchange Server, Lync (which will soon be replaced with Skype for Business), SharePoint, and Office Web Apps, as well as integration with the Yammer social network. A recent integration with Dropbox allows users to access Dropbox directly from the Office app and edit files from within the Dropbox app.
Cons: While Office for Android is free, it requires the aforementioned Office 365 subscription. The latest user reviews suggest that the app also has problems opening and modifying encrypted files, as well as issues with printing.

Google Apps for Work for Android
Manufacturer: Google
Cost: Free to download; monthly business plan pricing applies
Pros: Simply put, Google Apps for Work is built for Android. You’ll find the fewest bugs and hiccups when your employees use these apps on an Android tablet. As Google users already know, Google has Docs, Sheets, and Slides that are comparable to Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. Many businesses are already using Drive, which offers secure sharing and editing, and Hangouts for video conferencing. The two business packages include business emails, integrated calendars, storage, and more. And soon, Android will be able to securely separate home and work profiles, which is key to security in a BYOD business world.
Cons: Google’s business app packages may cost less than Office, but they’re not free. If your company is already heavily invested in Microsoft Office products for desktop, the effort required to convert documents back and forth may not be worth it. And while it’s a matter of preference, many business users still prefer the robustness of the Microsoft Office suite in general, and particularly Excel for heavy spreadsheet work.

The competition
Until recently, using Microsoft products on a mobile device has been the domain of third-party app developers, with varying results. OfficeSuite 8 (free, Mobile Systems) is a popular app for users who simply want to use Microsoft Office without collaboration tools. Docs to Go (free, $14.99 without ads) supports Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive/OneDrive, and Google Drive, but the interface doesn’t look entirely at home on Android. Polaris Office (free, optional annual subscription) has an attractive interface but is heavily integrated into its own online service. There are many more, and yes, many are free. But few are good small business productivity solutions.

Final thoughts
If your business is already heavily invested in Microsoft Office and wants to go mobile, Office for Android is worth the cost for its seamless integration. If not, Google for Work is a robust competitor with great collaboration tools that performs beautifully on Android tablets.

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Microsoft, Office, Office for Android, and Office 365 are U.S. registered trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
Android, Google, Google Apps for Work and other marks are trademarks of Google Inc.