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Microsoft Office still isn't available for iPad, but now HopTo fills the void

Mark Hachman | Nov. 15, 2013
Eventually, Microsoft will bring a touch-optimized version of Office to the iPad. Until that day arrives, however, there's Apple's iWork--and now HopTo, which offers a reskinned version of Word as lovely and useful as an iPad app should be.

In fact, the only services that HopTo doesn't connect to are owned by Apple: It can't search your Mac, and HopTo can't currently connect to iCloud, either. While this will be a showstopper for some, Eilam said this shortcoming would be resolved in the future.

Storing files willy-nilly across the cloud is less complex than you might think. Typing "Texas" on the search bar at the top of HopTo's main screen searches all of the cloud services at once. (For Windows and Google Drive, the search function can peek at text stored within documents. For all other services, search looks at document titles only.)

Eilam says that Office files opened within HopTo will provide "pixel perfect," 100 percent compatibility with Office. That appears to be the case. Since HopTo is based on Office 2010, XML-based file formats like .DOCX should display just fine.

All you need to do to begin editng a document is to double tap on the screen. Highlighting a word allows you to change the font's size and style—note that HopTo uses Office fonts, and not the native fonts from the iPad. One of the only hitches we noticed was that Office graphically displays what the font looks like, while HopTo simply lists them (at least in the version that Eilam demonstrated).

Solving the iPad's shortcomings

HopTo also has a couple of nifty tricks up its sleeve. To add images to a document, you can add a photo from the iPad's camera roll. But HopTo also allows an option to search online using Google's image search, pulling up thumbnail images from who knows where—quite literally, as they're unattributed. But as those images can be easily dropped into a document and quickly resized, it's a useful tradeoff.

And HopTo also solves one of the iPad's little irritations. Normally, the iPad only allows you to do one thing at a time: one document, in this case. HopTo solves the problem by placing each document in its own, separate, browser-like tab, allowing you to quickly switch back and forth.

The ability to track changes, a necessity for collaborative document creation, is also included. In general, Hopto offers everything Office 2010 does, save a few esoteric tools and options, Eilam promised.

HopTo provides an optimized interface for its version of Excel, as well. Keyboards are context-aware: For cells that HopTo knows contain numbers, Hopto doesn't even display an alphabetical keyboard. Slider bars allow you to alter currencies, convert to various decimal formats, and make other tweaks. However, it's not clear whether Hopto retains the same numerical limitations as Excel 2010 — 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns, for example—or offers a smaller subset, due to the iPad's memory constraints.

 

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