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WPS Office review: An all-in-one office app with speedy performance

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Move over, Microsoft Office and Google Drive, WPS Office (iOS|Android) is one of the best mobile office suites you can download. This app built by Chinese company Kingsoft is wildly popular in the East and has been slowly gaining steam in the US thanks to its many loyal fans.

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8.1

WPS Office

The Good

WPS Office has standard editing features, plus helpful extras, packaged in a single free app.

The Bad

It's missing some advanced features, like templates. The phone app has a confusing layout that makes it taxing to use for more than just minor edits.

The Bottom Line

Stellar performance and an intuitive layout make WPS Office a great choice for mobile editing.

Feature for feature, it matches its competitors, offering the tools you need to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The best part of WPS Office is that it's free for anyone and you don't need an account to use the app -- just download and get started right away. That's different than Office or Drive, which both require accounts and Office requires a subscription.

The Android version of WPS Office just got a major update, with a new design and Dropbox integration. I'll be covering that app in this review. However, there are significant differences between the tablet and phone versions of WPS Office. The tablet app is the one to get, because of its intuitive layout and buttery-smooth performance. The phone app on the other hand, which was built for smaller edits, has a bland design that's so clunky that I'd rather not use it at all.

A closer look at WPS Office's editing tools (pictures)

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Getting around

WPS Office is really three programs rolled into one app: Writer, Spreadsheet and Presentation (WPS). But you don't need to download individual apps for each scenario, like you do with Microsoft Office or Google's offerings. Instead, WPS Office opens the correct tool for the job when you open a file.

WPS Office's Android tablet app was recently updated with a clean, Material-based design and simplified layout. It doesn't get in your way and it lends itself nicely to making quick or robust edits on your tablet. The tablet and phone versions have different looks and layouts, and for this review I'll focus primarily on the tablet edition. The phone app is quite bare-bones and really only useful for minor edits, like adding text or changing the font because the toolbars are harder to navigate.

The design is a lot like Microsoft Office, with a color toolbar at the top for all of your editing options. There are tabs for different tools, including File, Insert and View, at the top of the screen and if you're familiar with most office programs, you'll find your way around with ease.

WPS Office's homepage helps you create new files. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The main screen of the app shows your recently opened files and a left-side menu bar. Slide out that menu bar by swiping right to create a new text document, spreadsheet or presentation or to open files on your device. WPS Office has full compatibility with Microsoft and Google Docs file types, like DOCX or GSHEET, and the app just recently added Dropbox integration, so you can view and edit files stored in that account. You can also connect other cloud storage accounts, including Box, Google Drive, OneDrive and Evernote.

Also part of that menu bar is the File Tabs section, which lets you jump around to your open files. It's a handy feature that lets you keep multiple files open at once and easy switch between them. When you close a file, it will disappear from that list.

Fluid controls

Kingsoft did a phenomenal job of building WPS Office so it works smoothly. This is most apparent when you're using the touch screen controls to make edits. You'll use your fingers to pinch to zoom, select text and move around pictures. You can also use your finger with the pen tool to draw and highlight.

Dragging across the screen to change margins, resize photos or selecting cells in a spreadsheet feels very fluid and easy, never frustrating. The app is responsive to your touch, and this was even true using my old Nexus 7 tablet that's gotten sluggish.

The editing tools you need

WPS Office has all of the familiar features you'll find in many office suites, helping you create new documents or make edits from your phone or tablet. Beyond the typical tools, like adjusting font size and style, adding slides to a presentations and creating formulas in Spreadsheets, WPD Office several advanced features too. Among them are tracking changes in documents, printing wirelessly using Google Cloud Print, encrypting your files to keep them safe and installing extra fonts.

The Spreadsheet program has built-in formulas and support for charts, while the Presentation program has a presenter mode that plays slideshows with a laser pointer you can use by drawing on the screen. The Writer app has a read-only view where you can flip through pages like you would in a book.

The Pen tool lets you draw on your documents, spreadsheets and presentations using your finger or a stylus. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

WPS Office includes a PDF viewer, but you can't use it to make edits. There's also support for many languages, including Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew.

Despite its exhaustive list of features, WPS Office is missing a few things. Unlike Microsoft Office and Google Docs, there are no built-in templates in the WPS Office app for documents, spreadsheets or presentations. Instead, you'll have to manually download them from the Kingsoft website onto your Android device and load them in the app to use them. Some advanced features are also missing from the app, like animations in the Presentations tools.

Final thoughts

WPS Office has long gotten plenty of praise and after reviewing the app, I can say it's well-deserved, at least for the tablet app. That version has a clean, modern design with colorful touches and straightforward toolbars for all your editing needs. It's versatile too; because you can use it with other office files, you can use Google Docs or Microsoft Office on your desktop and then do mobile edits with WPS Office.

However, WPS Office could stand to improve its Android phone app, which has a worse design and confusing layout. Even they both have roughly the same features, it's harder to find the tools you need in the phone version. Also, WPS Office is a bit too robust if you're only looking to jot down quick notes. For that, you'll want to stick with something simpler, like Evernote or Google Keep .

Still, WPS Office is an excellent choice if you find yourself needed to write and make changes away from your computer. It performs well, has all the basic tools you need, free and all rolled into one app, unlike its competitors.

app-5007-001.jpg
8.1

WPS Office

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 8Interface 7Performance 9