If you’re an iPad owner who subscribes to MobileMe, Apple’s $99 cloud service that provides over-the-air synchronization of PIM data, online storage and more, and you’ve been disappointed with the lack of integration of Apple’s own iWork iPad apps with MobileMe, Office² HD by Byte Square Limited is worth checking out.
At the iPad’s launch, Apple showed off its new iWork iPad apps, describing how intuitive and easy they would be to use on the iPad. However, these apps include no integration with the cloud storage portion, the iDisk, of Apple’s own MobileMe service and subscribers who rely on this service – yours truly included - who had grand dreams of being able to open and edit documents stored on an iDisk on an iPad had their hopes dashed. It seems unlike Apple to miss out on this level of integration between its own products and services and it may be on the company’s radar to address in the future, but Office² HD is available right now
Before we dig into Office² HD’s MobileMe compatibility, we should note that it’s a complete document editing suite that allows users to view, create, edit, and save files in Microsoft Word and Excel formats (and these files are also compatible with other desktop and mobile applications that work with these formats). In terms of cloud storage for saving and accessing files, Office² HD will work with Google Docs, myDisk.se, Box.net and any WebDAV server in addition to MobileMe’s iDisk.
Getting to your files stored on your MobileMe iDisk is as easy as entering your MobileMe account credentials in the Services menu. Once entered, you can browse your iDisk’s file structure as well as create new folders and re-organize folders and documents.
Clicking on the plus button in the top right corner of the source pane on the left side will prompt a dialogue asking if you want to create a new document or spreadsheet workbook.
The document editor offers a good number of formatting options, accessed via buttons at the top of the editing pane. Workbooks can have multiple sheets with different cell types, pane freezing, and other features that will accommodate most basic to intermediate spreadsheet needs.
When editing documents, you can choose to show or hide the keyboard to free up more screen space to facilitate reading through a longer document.
We encountered no issues opening files created within Office² HD in Microsoft Word 2008 and Microsoft Excel 2008 on a desktop Mac and found that changes made in documents via desktop appeared without issue within Office² HD.
Of course, you need an internet connection at all times to access and edit files on an iDisk. Or, you can download a file saved on an iDisk to the iPad (these will show up in the Local Files folder), edit it offline on the iPad within Office² HD, and then re-upload it to your iDisk when you get back to a place where you have internet connectivity as a workaround when a Wi-Fi or cellular (for those soon-to-be iPad 3G owners) network is not available.
Office² HD costs $7.99 and is for the iPad only, though there’s an iPhone/iPod touch version for $5.99. Byte Square Limited also offers Sheet² HD and Doc² HD if you’re only interested in one of the respective document types, along with Files² HD which is a document viewer only without any editing capabilities.