CloudOn lets you use your iPad to create, view, and edit files directly in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It launched with a fanfare in January but was initially available for users in US only. Now it is available for Canada and UK users too.
CloudOn uses Dropbox to manage your files so you must have a Dropbox account. If you don’t already have one you can sign up when you first launch CloudOn – a free account provides 2GB of storage.
As the name suggests, CloudOn is a cloud (online) service so you can only use it when you have internet access on your iPad, preferably via wireless to save mobile data bandwidth.
This makes it very similar to the OnLive Desktop app I reviewed last month which provides a virtual Windows 7 interface with full cloud versions of the same Microsoft Office apps. Crucially though, Onlive Desktop is still not available in the UK – so CloudOn have got in first. The main features include:
- Use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint (they are Office 2010 versions) on your iPad to create or edit documents
- Rename, delete and manage documents with your Dropbox account
- Display, edit or create charts, change formatting, spell check, insert comments, into any Word, Excel or PowerPoint files
- Track changes while reviewing Word documents; use pivot tables and insert formulas in Excel workbooks
- Display and edit animation or transitions in PowerPoint presentations; present in full PowerPoint mode (not in PDF)
- Open files directly from your iPad email accounts or Dropbox account; automatically save documents to avoid losing changes
CloudOn is available from the app store here. A video review (not mine) is shown below:
CloudOn provides cloud versions of popular Microsoft Office applications in much the same way as Onlive Desktop. The key differences are:
- CloudOn is available in the UK now, Onlive isn’t.
- CloudOn uses popular Dropbox account storage whereas Onlive uses its own account and servers.
- CloudOn just provides the Office programs whereas Onlive adds a virtual Windows 7 interface (although this interface is limited, you can’t just install new programs on it)
It remains to be seen whether Microsoft take the threat of these cloud services lying down. There are persistent rumors that they are working on an official Office app for iPad which would not be cloud based – so no need for internet access when using it and likely to be quicker than accessing the same programs via the cloud.
However, if enough people start using CloudOn or Onlive Desktop versions of Office for free then Microsoft may find the party is already over by the time they finally arrive with their more expensive app…