This blog entry is part of a continuous writing on the topic of “optimizing smartphone usage for smarter life”.
If you haven’t done so, please start reading from the first article on this series.


For work, people generally use three main formats of file: document, spreadsheet and presentation. Document handles texts, letters, and sometimes have images in it. Spreadsheet is used to deal with numbers, formulas and charts. Presentation is used to deliver our ideas in an event, meeting or other discussions. We usually do all the work with these files in desktop computer. Do you know we can also do that from our smartphones?

This blog post is the fifth part of 8 posts I will write about optimizing smartphone for smarter life.
I will write this guide based on iPhone. Simply because iPhone is my primary smartphone for now. Most of my tips and guides should be applicable for Android, Windows Phone and other smartphone OS. But you might need to do a bit of more research to find out how to get similar function in that OS.

This guide will NOT teach you step-by-step how to setup or use the features. Rather, I am trying to inspire you with a feature’s functionality and how we can benefit from it to live smarter life. More productive, more time efficient, more organized.




Document, Spreadsheet and Presentation

Microsoft Office is currently de-facto standard software for these types of working files. Microsoft Word to handle documents, Microsoft Excel to handle spreadsheets and Microsoft Powerpoint to handle presentations. There are plenty of alternative software like Kingsoft Office, but they generally still use Microsoft’s file formats (docx, xlsx and pptx) for compatibility reasons. Apple has their own software suit for work files called iWork. They have Pages to handle documents, Numbers to handle spreadsheets and Keynote to handle presentations. While I do feel iWork software are reasonably good, they only have one-way compatibility with Microsoft Office. We can import files from Microsoft Office into iWork, but we can’t export our result back to Microsoft’s format. This can become a major issue at work when we need to send or exchange our files to collaborate with others.

iWorks apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) are available for Mac, iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) and through web browser (iCloud). Since these apps are native apps in iPhone, they work well to read and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations in our smartphone. However, the file format compatibility problem becomes my main reason not to use these apps.

Microsoft Office has their own native app for iPhone. To use it, we must have Office 365 subscription. Sadly, this app is not available for iPad because Microsoft still need it as selling point to sell their Surface tablets. I like the idea of buying a packaged software, then can do anything with that software after I buy it. I like having the freedom to decide when to upgrade my software to a new version. This is the reason Microsoft Office 365 monthly subscription model is not interesting for me. Heck, I don’t like the idea of paying monthly (even lower cost) to use a software. I’d rather pay a bigger chunk of money, but I can use it for many years as I like. So, yes, I also skip Microsoft’s solution for office files in smartphones.

After deciding not to use apps from major two companies (Apple and Microsoft), I decide to use Quickoffice, an app capable to create, open and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint file format. To be honest, I don’t think creating a file from scratch using smartphone is a good idea. But they’re more than capable to perform minor editing while we are on-the-go. And that should be enough for most situations.

Another good app to open various office files is Good Reader. It can open files faster than Quickoffice, but it can only open files, no editing.

Why do we need to open office files in smartphones’ small screen? Can’t we just use laptops?
Well, technically we can. But I have experienced myself multiple occasions when I really need to open office files and do some minor editing on them while I was on-the-go without my laptop.

After getting used to work with office files in mobile device, I managed to develop a new work habit. I no longer print reports to my boss, I show him in my iPad screen. He can play around with the data I prepared, and when he said his usual “what if” questions, I can simply do minor editing on the data with some revised formula, and magically the report is altered using a new scenario based on my boss’ request.

Special for presentation files, Quickoffice and other apps I tried have one general limitation. Somehow the formatting I prepared in desktop computer doesn’t always appear as expected in mobile device screen. Yes the contents are there, but most of the time there will be some issues with font, table format, etc. I was frustrated until I found an app called Slidesharks. This app can actually show our presentation exactly as it should look in desktop computer. Well, I can’t really guarantee that it will work for all kinds of presentations, but as far as I have tried, my presentations look good in this app. With portable projectors (I know 3M has some models on small projectors designed for mobile devices), we can practically do our presentation anywhere. If we need to do the presentation on normal projector, additional connector can be purchased for our smartphones which will enable the connection between the smartphone and projector.

One useful trick to work with multiple devices (desktop computers and mobile devices) are using cloud storage service. I use Dropbox for my office files. Everytime I changed something, it will be stored in the cloud, and all my mobile devices will automatically get the files. This way we no longer need to worry about “forgetting to bring a file”.

Another service worth mentioning is Google Docs. It’s a web-based application with similar function: to enable us working with documents, spreadsheets and presentations.




Optimizing Smartphone for Smarter Life, list of topics in this series:
1. Calendar, Reminders, Notes
2. Maps and Trip Planning
3. Communication and Collaboration
4. Reading and Learning
5. Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation
6. Content Creation
7. Personal Database
8. Saving Money
*. Epilogue

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Apple and/or Google and do not receive any financial benefit from writing this article.