written by: Daniel Kolobaric•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/19/2011
As your Android smartphone is truly a powerhouse and can perform many tasks it is no surprise that it can handle Excel files. There are many office suites available that can handle the format, some better than others. Read on for a detailed explanation of the options and even a non-app option.
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Excel and Android, A Happy Combination?
Your Android phone is truly a pocket computer in every sense. Considering the vast variety of tasks it can perform that you would traditionally do on a computer or laptop, the new generations of phones are truly smart. It will come as no surprise also that your phone can handle a vast variety of documents files, which includes documents created in Microsoft's Excel.
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Non-App Solution for Viewing and Editing Excel Files on Android
Although this article is about apps capable of Excel support, it is worth noticing that there is a simple way of accessing XLS file types on your Android device. This is done through Google Docs, and requires an Internet connection. Your XLS documents can be uploaded to Google Docs on your desktop or laptop. Afterwards use the browser of the Android phone and go to the following address:
Through this link you can access your Excel files and view them within the browser. It is also possible to edit the document within the same browser, without having to download the file. Although limited, this option is free and doesn’t require an external app.
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Using Documents to Go on Android
Documents to Go is perhaps the most advanced office suite on Android. Besides Excel it supports Word, PowerPoint and PDF files as well. Documents to GO has a large set of features that make it worthwhile. First of all, you are able to edit your XLS and XLSX documents as well as create new ones from scratch. Furthermore, the application syncs with the before-mentioned Google Docs and even offers a desktop synchronization option (Windows only).
Documents to Go offers much of the basic Excel functionality to get you going in editing mode. Touching a cell will trigger the editing mode for it, whereas through the menu button the interaction can be selected. Basic tools such as equations, cell formatting and cell altering are all available amongst other features. Documents to Go is an excellent tool for Excel editing and is worth the $14.99. A free trial version is also available in the Android Market.
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Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for Android
Quickoffice for Android is fairly similar in functionality to Documents to GO. It too supports Excel files amongst other popular file formats. It even has a built-in file manager as well. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite also lets you sync your documents through Dropbox, Box.net and even MobileMe, which is definitely a big plus for the software suite.
In terms of functionality Quickoffice is not that much different from Documents to Go and most of the other office suites on Android. Excel is supported as well with many editing options. With large Excel files, however, there is an obvious slowdown of the app noticeable, which is worse than with similar apps. A copy and paste feature is also missing, making this application perhaps not as versatile as others. However, with a $9.99 price point it is cheaper than Documents to Go. Unfortunately there is no trial version available.
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Thinkfree Office Mobile for Android
Thinkfree Office Mobile for Android does not differ much in functionality as compared to the above-mentioned office suites. The major exception, and this is why Thinkfree is worth considering, is that the app is a lot faster in tasks. This is a big advantage for Excel, because files can be pretty demanding. Especially with larger files with a lot of graphical elements Thinkfree for Android is really fast to render them. Also in the scrolling, zooming or editing the app is fast, which is very pleasant if you are serious about mobile Excel. Thinkfree also supports the XLSX format, which was incorporated in Office 2007, so the application is definitely future-proof.
The layout of Thinkfree is a bit more basic than the other two options. As the user interface consists of no more than four tabs (Home/My Docs/Online/Google) there are limited options for navigating around. The My Docs tab is where saved documents can be found, but the application doesn’t scan the SD card. Instead you have to navigate to the right folder each time, which can be a bit tedious at times.
The application does have its own online service for backing up your documents and even supports Google Docs integration. Strangely, opening a Google Doc Excel file will trigger the web browser and not the app and downloading the app doesn’t open it straight away. A search through the folders will find it later. The Google Docs integration, therefore, isn’t always fluent. If you can look past these few annoyances Thinkfree is a good application for viewing and editing Excel files. It takes a bit of getting used too, but once you do it is definitely worth the effort. Thinkfree Office Mobile for Android is $14.99 in the Android Market.
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The Definitive Office Suite for Working With Excel on Android
There are many office suites in the market that all do a similar job with Excel files. There are quite a few further options besides the three mentioned here, but in the end there isn’t too much of a difference between them. Of the three described here Documents to Go is probably the best value for money. It provides an all-round offering that is worth the money and comes closest to an Office suite as you would expect on your desktop. Excel files are easy accessible and editable with it and can be synchronized with various services both on and offline. Although the other apps are definitely worth mentioning it is Documents to Go which seems to really understand the limitations of the phone as a platform for Excel files.