Home / iPad / Best iOS office apps of 2020: documents for the iPhone and iPad – TechRadar

Best iOS office apps of 2020: documents for the iPhone and iPad – TechRadar

Apple iPhones and iPads have become an integral part of many modern businesses. 

With native apps and web apps for mobile devices available across the range of productivity and creativity applications, as well as easy accessibility for Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile Apple devices have established their place in the office.

However, despite the number of integrated apps, there are still a wide range of individual apps that can be valuable to have for general office duties. 

For example, productivity suites for dealing with documents and spreadsheets still form the core of office work, plus there are a variety of related services available as apps to support that role, not least for document scanning and printing. 

There is such a huge volume of different apps for similar purposes available in the Apple AppStore, however, that it can be difficult to sift through which ones may be the most important.

We aim to make that decision easier for you, by listing the best in iOS office apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Best iOS office apps – at a glance

  1. Office 365
  2. Polaris Office
  3. GoodReader
  4. Documents
  5. Pages
  6. Google Drive
  7. SmartOffice
  8. WPS Office

Office 365

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Office 365

Market leader

Full functionality

Not free

Microsoft Office remains the most ubiquitous office software on the market, and Office 365 is the cloud-based version that’s easy to use from your iPhone or iPad.

While there are other office suites out there, some have problems converting between their own document formats and the common Microsoft ones, such as .doc and .docx, with the result that formatting can be lost or mixed up from your documents.

The price isn’t particularly expensive, either, with a personal edition costing in the region of $6.99 per month or discounted to $69.99 when paid yearly, which is relatively cheap when a lot of other productivity apps have similar costs but fewer features and functionality.

Altogether, Office 365 remains the original and best when it comes to office suite software, so this is probably the first one you’ll want to look at when considering your options.

(Image credit: Polaris Office)

2. Polaris Office

Lightweight, powerful and easy to use if you don’t mind the ads


Easy to use

Invasive ads

Polaris Office is a free office suite that runs across all platforms. It also has a handy iPhone and iPad app that lets you access your documents from anywhere. Everything you need is in one handy application.

Polaris Office is fully compatible with MS Office and supports most file types such as ODT, PDF, PPT, DOC and XLS. Within the app you can open all file formats including PowerPoint and Excel. All of these formats can be opened, edited and saved through the application.

The app also supports writing with pen and the use of pointer features meaning you can draw and edit as if you were writing on actual sheets of paper.

You can view PDF’s directly from your iPhone or iPad and can easily convert them into another format to edit them. There is no need to extract files with Polaris Office, you can view them through the app.

It comes with 1GB of Cloud storage of its own but you can connect your own cloud storage provider with it in order to gain more storage. Polaris also supports over 18 languages.

One of the main criticisms of the free app is the ads that can interrupt the service. However, this can easily be resolved by purchasing the remove ads option for $3.99.

There are also several different price tiers starting at $5.49 per month that will give you access to more cloud storage and annotation on PDF. All payments are based on a recurring subscription and will automatically renew.

(Image credit: GoodReader)

3. GoodReader

Great for viewing and editing PDFs and other documents

Excellent support

Easy to use

Connectivity issues

GoodReader was developed by GoodiWare Ltd which was started by Yuri Selukoff. It was first released in 2010. The iPhone and iPad app costs $5.99.

The app can read and view documents in different formats such as DOC, PDF and XLS. It is mainly a PDF reader and within it you can make changes to PDF documents.

GoodReader enables users to read, edit and sign PDF files. From here you can also make annotations within your PDF document such as highlighting and drawing. Signing PDF documents only takes three taps. The app makes everything very simple.

You can store your data simply and efficiently though cloud providers such as Dropbox and OneDrive. GoodReader also supports copy and paste along with the ability to Zip/Unzip and unRAR files and folders. 

Any users of the old version can use a migration assistant that will help to move files to the new app seamlessly. Users new to GoodReader will enjoy the text-to-speech feature which supports a large number of languages.

(Image credit: Documents)

4. Documents

Lightweight and powerful, with many extra features


Compatible with iWorks

No search features

Documents for iOS is developed by Savy Soda who are located in Melbourne, Australia. Documents works with Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive to give users optimal storage. Editing can be done both online and offline.

The app includes a Text Editor, a spreadsheet app and a file manager. With the use of all three this gives users the ability to open all MS Office files along with full compatibility with iWorks. It fully supports all TXT and CSV files but there is limited support for DOC and XLS files through Google Docs.

Included within Documents is a Photo Album tool which helps users to manage their photos easily.

Spreadsheets are fully functional and supports all formulae, formats and basic features associated with Excel. Files that you create within the app can be opened by Notepad, OpenOffice, and Word amongst others.

This appears to be a popular app with users having very little to criticize about it. However, one of the few complaints is that there is no ability to search within a document and that it always requests you save a document whether you have made changes or not.

(Image credit: Pages)

5. Pages

Use Apple’s own colorful productivity apps if you have enough space

Microsoft Office compatible

Excellent design templates

Documents display differently in MS Word

Pages is part of the iWork productivity suite and is developed by Apple. However, the suite can not be installed in one handy app but is divided up into three separate apps: Pages (word processor), Numbers (Spreadsheet software) and Keynote (presentation software). 

Pages can open DOCX, DOC, RTF and TXT files. It can export files through PDF, DOCX, RTF and EPUB. If collaborating with users of Microsoft Office, you will need to convert the file into either a PDF or DOCX file before sending as it is not fully compatible with MS Office and can cause readability issues.

You can annotate and draw within documents using the Apple Pen. This is an easy to use tool that allows you to add drawings in several different ways besides the Apple Pen e.g. ‘fill tools’.

Pages also has its own Apple designed templates for letters, resumes and posters which are easy to use.

With the collaboration tool users can see exactly who is working on the document at the same time as them, can share the document publicly and can easily follow other users edits. It is also available on documents that are stored in iCloud.

The general consensus amongst users is that the app should be more compatible with MS Office. Even though you can convert documents into DOCX files, they can still appear different in MS Office.

(Image credit: Google Drive)

6. Google Drive

A one-stop shop for all your office needs

Large storage capacity

Free to install

Organizational issues

Google Drive is a file storage service developed by Google. Users can store and share files in their drive as well as synchronize files across devices. It is free to download and offers in-app purchases.

The app incorporates Google’s office suite (G Suite) which includes Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. This means that documents stored on the drive can be viewed, edited and created. Any changes will be saved to Google Drive.

You are given 15GB of free storage which can be upgraded through paid plans which start at $1.99 (£1.52) per month.

Users can edit the privacy settings for each file as they see fit. This is especially handy if you want to collaborate with other people. 

All files that you have saved to your drive, such as documents, spreadsheets and photos, will be backed up safely so you won’t have to worry about losing them.

There is a handy search feature where you can either search for files by content or name. Users are also able to see any recent activity on a file and can set sharing permissions to comments, edit or read-only.

Users have criticized the layout of Google Drive stating that organizing files/folders can be confusing as the documents all look the same and are categorized by most recent activity and not alphabetically.

(Image credit: SmartOffice)

7. SmartOffice

An excellent basic suite with optional extra features

Lightweight full office suite

Extra security

Slow to log in

SmartOffice claim to offer the most accurate representation of Microsoft Office products that can be seen on a mobile app. The app is $9.99 to buy and install. For this you are getting a full office suite.

The app offers password protection so that you have extra security when saving any documents you have been working on. Users can edit and share Microsoft documents easily and efficiently. All files can be converted to a PDF if needed. Documents can be opened and saved online with access to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive.

SmartOffice supports several image formats such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF and BMP. Wireless printing is also supported. It is compatible with all versions of Word since 1997 and supports over 35 different languages. It is easy to use with a well-designed, attractive interface.

SmartOffice has an excellent spreadsheet and presentations tool that is comparable to MS Office.

Users have criticized the iPhone and iPad app for being slow to log in and hard to navigate through.

(Image credit: WPS Office)

8. WPS Office

A formidable free office suite if you can stand the ads

Free to install

Full office suite

Intrusive adverts

WPS Office (Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets) is an office suite developed by Chinese software developer Kingsoft. The suite is available on both iPhone and iPad. The app is free but ad-supported, though you can remove these by paying either $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year. The suite’s comprised of WPS Writer, WPS Presentation and WPS Spreadsheet.

The WPS PDF reader has the ability to convert PDF to WPS and is able to read Adobe PDF files.  The app supports a number of file types such as DOC, RTF, DOT, PPTX, TXT and HTML amongst others. All documents are fully compatible with Microsoft Office and Google Docs.

The app allows you to securely encrypt your files with passkeys and you can edit your documents without the fear of losing your work with the auto-save option. Features include the ability to track changes, comments and run spell checks.

The app can present documents straight from your iPhone/iPad to a compatible TV or projector. WPS for iOS also supports 47 different languages.

It seems that if do not purchase the premium subscription within the app then you will be plagued by intrusive ads while using the service.

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