While Microsoft dallies on bringing a standalone version of Office to phones and tablets, Google’s firing back by slashing the price of its QuickOffice apps to zero.
The free app, which was previously restricted to Google Apps business users, is now available to all users on iOS and Android. Google had offered a $15 version to all users before, called QuickOffice Pro, but that version will be discontinued according to Android Police.
Until now, Google Drive was the search giant’s answer to Office for non-enterprise users. But Drive has one big drawback: It cannot directly deal with Office formats such as .doc and .xls, so it has to convert them to Google Docs files first. That’s a hassle, and it can introduce compatibility problems. QuickOffice lets you open and edit those Office documents without converting them. (Strangely, the opposite drawback applies for Google Drive files: You can view them within QuickOffice, but you can’t edit them.)
Google acquired QuickOffice in June of last year, and it’s reasonable to imagine that the program will merge with Drive over time. In fact, QuickOffice already lets you save and load document files directly to your Drive storage. But for now, you’ve got one program for Drive documents, and another for Office documents.
That’s not to say QuickOffice is robust by comparison. It lacks its fair share of standard Office features, such as link insertion, table creation and line spacing. But unlike the mobile version of Office, which requires a $99 per year Office 365 subscription, you can use QuickOffice on phones and tablets for free. It’s worth checking out if you need a basic Office file editor. If you hook it up to your Google Drive account by September 26, you’ll also get an extra 10 GB of free storage for two years.