Quick Review: Kingsoft Office 4.3 for Android
|Manufacturer:||Kingsoft Office Software Corporation Limited|
|Requirements:||Android 2.1 or higher|
There are a number of tools which computer users will install by default on their Mac or PC – an email client, web browser, media player and an office suite. Make the move to a mobile platform such as iOS and Android and the range of apps you need changes slightly. Most phones and tablets will comes with a number of apps pre-installed including a calendar, messaging tool, web browser and various other tools. One thing that is generally left out of the mix is a mobile office suite. There are plenty of suites to choose from, but the vast majority of them have a fairly hefty price tag attached to them and many users are disappointed to find that the app they choose to try out is too limited for their needs. Kingsoft Office is something of an anomaly – an extremely powerful and feature-packed Android office suite that is available for free.
As you would expect from any office, Kingsoft Office can be used to open and edit documents that have been created in Microsoft Word, including the more recent XML formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, including encrypted files. Your documents can be stored locally or in the cloud – box.net or WebDAV – and performance is reassuring fast. When it comes to opening files that you have already created, there is a great preview screen that can be used to navigate through documents before you open them. Rather than browsing through fiddly folders, full screen previews are displayed that you can easily swipe through to find the file you need. There is also an excellent file explorer that can be used to browse through all of the documents stored on your Android device, including text and PDF files that can be opened in the suite.
One of the problems with many mobile office suites, aside from the cost which many people are unwilling to way, is that going down the mobile software route usually means have to make compromises when it comes to features. While it not true to say that Kingsoft Office is a mobile replica of Microsoft Office, it is certainly one of the most complete tools. Ability to use features such as headers and footers, adjusting line spacing, add comments and much more, mean that this is probably the most comprehensive mobile office apps available.
Ease of use
When working with spreadsheets, you can freeze panes to aid navigation and display charts and shapes. The navigation of spreadsheets is something that has long proved tricky but it is something that is handled with panache in Kingsoft and the option of quickly switching to full screen mode is very useful. It is easy enough to type in documents using the on-screen keyboard, there is also the option of using a Bluetooth to make extended sessions of typing more comfortable. Standard keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting can be used when working with an external keyboard.
One of the problems that any mobile office faces is that an office suite and its individual components are meant to include a large number of options and these would ordinarily be housed in monitor width toolbars. While this is easy enough for Mac and Windows application, mobile apps do not have the luxury of such screen space and also have to be geared up for use in two different orientations. Kingsoft Office uses a familiar toolbar system that would not look out of home in Microsoft Office, but makes them scrollable. This is a technique that means that it does not matter whether you are working in portrait or landscape mode, it is still possible – easy, even – for access a large number of toolbar buttons. The size of the buttons means that they are easy to identify and press, but it does also have the side effect that, particularly in portrait mode, a limited number are displayed out without having to scroll, and it is possible to ‘forget’ that the remaining buttons exist.
Mobile phone users are unlikely to turn to Kingsoft Office as their primary office tool – there is no getting away from the fact that a desktop suite will always be easily to use and boast more powerful features – but tablet owners have a particularly great tool on their hands. The screen space available on tablets means that spreadsheets are very easy to work with and more of a text document can be seen at any one time. The ability to view and play presentations means that the suite could be used as a valuable tool for business meetings, but it is also the sort of app that home users will find countless uses for. Free software is often dismissed as being inferior to commercial apps, but here is an example of a free app that is at least as good as the paid-for competition.