Microsoft Office for the iPhone (without the Microsoft)
Why wait for Redmond?
Quickoffice's Excel stand-in, Quicksheet, is a more robust module than its Word-wrangling sibling. It's also more difficult to use, seeing as how tapping and dragging tiny spreadsheet cells requires a steady hand and good aim - especially for our admittedly ham-handed fingers.
Fortunately, the same pinching system allows you to grow and shrink your spreadsheet, making cell-selection easier. Be careful, though, to place both fingers on the spreadsheet at the some instant, or you'll select a cell instead.
To test .xls and .xlsx compatibility, we took a mildly formatted Excel spreadsheet and saved it into both formats.
This simple Excel spreadsheet helped me reorgnize the volumes on my trusty Power Mac G5
Out test file not only had some simple borders, colors, and textures, but also conditional formatting: The numbers in bold green were set to receive that formatting if they were over 100, and the numbers in bold red, under 35.
When we opened both files in Quicksheet they were essentially identical, with one tiny niggle: The .xlsx file opened with a slightly higher zoom than the .xls file. No biggie.
Not only does a .xlsx document have a larger file size, it looks a touch bigger, as well
When we pinched the file to show the entire width of the spreadsheet in the display, it became apparent that Quicksheet, like Quickword, simplifies an Office file's format.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
The lack of texturing in the turquoise bars is a vanishingly tiny problem, and we can live without the double-bar and dotted-line borders, but we found the lack of conditional formatting more problematic. A call to Quickoffice confirmed that, yes, conditional formatting is not supported.
At least the text is smart enough to extend over unfilled cells, à la Excel
When we scolled down to the bottom of our test spreadsheet, we noticed that line 29 - which fit just fine when opened in Excel - jutted out further than it should in Quicksheet.
Inserting and deleting rows and columns is easily accomplished, and a helpful Drag to Align UI made text alignment easy. Quicksheet also allows adding, deleting, or reordering worksheets within an Excel document using a standard iPhone-app UI.
The Drag to Align UI is sheer genius
Unfortunately, although you can edit cell contents when in landscape mode, changing their formatting is portrait-mode only. Neither can you add formulas when in landscape mode.
Don't worry, most formulas are far more powerful than SUM
Speaking of formulas, Quicksheet is loaded with them - we counted 121, grouped in such categories as Math & Trig, Statistical, Financial, and more, including one appropriate to most of our Excel usage: Common. To use a formula, you tap the ƒx icon and select the formula from its list. The formula then pops into - where else? - the formula bar and a balloon presents you with its syntax. Type in your variables and away you go.
You can also change row and column widths by tapping and holding until directional arrows appear, then drag right and left, or up and down until you're happy with the result. That may sound easy, but we found this to one of the more challenging tricks to convince Quicksheet to perform - that, and double-tapping and dragging to select a range of cells. Perhaps with more practice? Perhaps not.
As with Quickword, a reduced range of formatting options is offered, simply covering the basics. Oh, and don't go looking for chart-formatting options - Quicksheet doesn't support charts of any kind.