CloudOn, a small Silicon Valley-based startup firm, recently released its Microsoft Office for iPad app. With the new app, the tablet users can create new documents, review and edit existing documents, and access all their files from connected Dropbox accounts.
The cloud-based service essentially runs Office on its own end, letting users open documents from their Dropbox accounts. From there, users can edit their files on CloudOn's interface, then save the files back to their personal cloud.
The interface looks familiar to MS Office as it normally appears on PCs and delivers the same functionality, including reviewing Word documents with track changes, inserting formulas and pivot tables in Excel workbooks, and editing animation or transitions in PowerPoint presentations.
According to the developers, utilizing Dropbox also eliminates some security concerns; CloudOn does not store any files on its servers and users' credentials are encrypted via a 256-bit encryption.
One shortcoming is that files can only be accessed when connected to the internet. Still, it represents a solution to the problem of working with Office documents on the iPad - until Microsoft develops an iOS-compatible version of its Office suite.
App is Still in "Pilot Mode"
The app is currently available for free download on the App store, but in a statement on their web site the developers hinted at a tiered pricing structure in the future, meaning that some aspects of the app will be free, while others may carry a charge.
CloudOn was initially put up in its testing stage for free download on January 3rd, but taken down shortly after due to overwhelming demand. The developers wrote, "Unfortunately, we did not anticipate the thousands of people that would gravitate to the service in a matter of hours. Although we had planned to support a large number of users, the interest generated was beyond our expectations, and we have had a few teething issues with our platform (some of which we have already partially resolved)."
The app was made available again on January 5th to people who had pre-registered for notifications of availability. People were invited in waves to download the app, which, the developers noted, "is still in pilot mode."