Microsoft Office for iPad made headlines last week, bringing the eagerly awaited suite to Apple tablets in high style.
But the deal-breaker, at least for some users, was the price tag: To create and edit documents, you must be an Office 365 subscriber -- to the tune of $99 per year.
There are alternatives, of course, and one of them just got an update. Kingsoft Office 3.2 for iOS offers word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, all for the impossible-to-beat price of $0.
Although Kingsoft's app has been around since last year, the update clearly aims to challenge Office for iPad. The major addition: support for viewing, creating, and editing spreadsheets. (The previous version offered only word processing and presentation modules.)
Also new in 3.2: Support for opening and viewing ZIP files, support for AirPlay and DLNA (translation: beaming documents a TV), and a Presentation reading mode that lets you view notes and slides together.
What really separates Kingsoft Office from Microsoft Office, though, is support for multiple cloud services: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and WebDAV. Microsoft's apps work only with OneDrive. However, in my quick tests, Kingsoft had a lot trouble with Google Drive: It couldn't open any documents created in Google Drive proper, and I received download errors for supposedly compatible files.
Thankfully, items imported from Dropbox and OneDrive worked fine. And although Kingsoft lacks the visual appeal of Office for iPad, all the basic editing tools are there.
If nothing else, anyone looking for a mobile office suite would be well advised to at least try Kingsoft's latest before ponying up for Microsoft's suite.