Productivity on an iPhone

Danny Gorog
5 February, 2011
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A question I get asked a lot is, ‘Can you be productive on an iPhone?’ I think the question generally has more to do with the concept rather than the reality. Let’s face it, while the iPhone is a fantastic pocket computer you’re still limited to a 3.5in screen and a soft keyboard.

But to Apple’s credit, the built-in ability to view PDF, Word and Excel files is excellent. My bet is that that’s probably enough for most people. But for the extreme ‘road warriors’ there are lots of options for cracking a bit more productivity out of your iPhone.

The most popular suite is called Documents To Go. It comes in two variations, regular ($12.99) and premium ($19.99).

The core offering available in both suites lets you create, view and edit Word and Excel files. You can also do the same to iWork files.

Documents to Go provides you with all the functions you’d expect from a productivity suite, and the interface has been thoughtfully brought to the iPhone. You can do things like format margins, perform find-and-replace commands, add bullets and tab marks, work with tables and embed graphics in your documents. Once you’ve finished creating your document you can easily export it back to the desktop.

Documents to Go Premium has some other handy features; the most important is the ability to access, use and sync files stored in Google Docs, Dropbox, iDisk and other file sharing products. It also includes full PowerPoint support.

All versions of Documents to Go take advantage of the ‘Open In…’ feature of iOS that lets files from other apps open in separate applications.

But, as with most products, Documents to Go isn’t the only solution. The $12.99 Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite (pictured) offers many of the features of Documents to Go Premium such as access to internet file servers for a lower price. It doesn’t support creating and editing PowerPoint files, however.

If you don’t feel like spending lots on productivity apps and only really need basic text editing there are other cheaper and simpler solutions. For example, check out Simplenote, a free note taking app that lets you sync your notes to

Lastly, if you’re a heavy Dropbox user (and you should be) check out PlainText from Hog Bay Software, a fantastic text editor with full Dropbox integration. Unlike Apple’s Notes or Simplenote, PlainText allows you to create, view and edit any text file in your Dropbox. That means if you’re out on the road and make changes to a text file in your Dropbox, all the changes will automatically be synced back to your computer.

What else do you want for free?


2 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Xenophos says:

    For simple note taking – Evernote all the way.

  2. BrianB says:

    Thanks Alex…never looked at Evernote. Now I have it’s brilliant!

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