Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99)
Pros: stable app; friendly interface; direct link to variety of cloud storage services; can easily use this to create and to perform some light editing of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files
Cons: limited functionality compared to desktop version of Office; limited formatting options, e.g., only 12 fonts; unfortunate tendency to slightly reformat Powerpoint presentations that have been created on desktop or laptop computers; can use the app to convert files to PDFs (though it’s hidden in the print function and exporting takes another step or two)
Pros: stable app; relatively rich formatting options, e.g., 58 fonts available, not counting weight options for many of those; well integrated into the iPad, e.g., easy access to Photos and photo stream; great if you have other Mac computers with the latest OS to take advantage of most recent iCloud sharing options; can easily export files as PDFs for Air Sketch
Cons: limited options for exporting documents (no cloud services apart from iCloud); interface for file management is limited
I’ve used Quickoffice as my main iPad word processing app since I began working with iPads nearly two years ago. I love the interface–it’s simple, logical, and hasn’t changed much in all that time. I use it to open email attachments and to do some light editing on Dropbox documents. I also use it to create rough drafts. Essentially, it’s a cloud-storage friendly app that allows me to do some basic drafting and light editing, and as long as I don’t have to worry about formatting or anything terribly complicated, all will be well.
Keynote is a more recent acquisition. I started using it routinely when we offered our first iPads and Presenting workshop. I enjoy creating presentations on the iPad because I’m able to easily access Photos and photo stream and embed hyperlinks to videos and to web pages. I also like the presenter notes feature with Keynote, which gives me access to my notes on the presentation without making them visible to the audience. Keynote is a much richer presentation application than the PowerPoint portion of Quickoffice. I’ve found that the limited options in Keynote for exporting documents can actually work to my advantage if I’m trying to turn my presentation into a PDF for use with Air Sketch. It is an option within the export function in Keynote, rather than being hidden in the Print function within Quickoffice. [Thanks to Dr. Chris Lynn for suggesting I give Keynote on the iPad a try.]
So, depending on what you need to do, both Quickoffice and Keynote are perfectly serviceable and reliable.
[I have not worked much with the Excel portion of Quickoffice or with Pages and Numbers, Apple's versions of Word and Excel. If you have experience with these apps, please feel free to comment below.]
An additional note on word processing on the iPad: it helps to have modest goals. For example, I must use the track changes function in some of the work that I do. While there are apps that provide track changes functionality, OnLive Desktop and Office2 HD, both are buggy. OnLive Desktop is free (woo-hoo!) but it is critically dependent on robust wireless because you’re working with a virtualized version of the full Office suite. It also requires some maneuvering to get your documents into the virtual space in which you can begin to edit them, and this maneuvering can only happen on a desktop or laptop computer. OnLive is also undergoing some difficult financial times, so there’s that. Office2 HD ($7.99) is an app that resides on the iPad. I’ve not worked much with the app apart from trying to use track changes as I edited an 80-some page document. MUCH crashing ensued. Perhaps with a smaller document, all would be ducky? I will experiment and let you know. What is wonderful about the iPad, obviously, is its small size and how quickly it wakes up. I’d much prefer to use it than my aged, ailing, and heavy laptop. I’m willing to put up with some slightly awkward workarounds for these reasons. But for my work that requires track changes, these apps don’t seem to be the solution.