In-App Banner Ad & Microsoft WTF

These days, we’re all slaves to some technology or other.  I am a willing slave to three (at least three) megacorp electronic/software giants: Microsoft, Google, and Adobe.  I know, I’m so original.  But today, my weekend sanity was saved by Microsoft, a new company called CloudOn, and of all things, an in-app banner ad.

I honestly loved Office 2007 and the 2010 version just stole the cake. I use Word and Excel almost daily.  Far and away my favorite upgraded features in these versions of Word are the Review features, especially Track Changes. This little set of tools turns Word into a robust collaborative editing suite.  Combine that with the synchronized sharing of Dropbox and you have pure gold!

There are a few problems with this process though:

  1. I no longer have a functioning laptop (it lives but only on life support)
  2. A reasonably edited Track Changes Word doc gets really complicated, really fast, and can take some patience and wherewithal to grok even in the full desktop program.
  3. There are were no mobile apps that allowed full viewing or editing features that even vaguely resembled the niceties of Word.

As you can imagine, my group project for COM 597 is a size-able docx with a ton of comments and tracked changes, none of which show up on Documents-To-Go or Quick Office (leading docx editor apps).  Since my group is planning to spend pretty much all day Saturday working together in person on this, not having access to a fully editable/viewable version was going to be a big problem.  I even started trying to resurrect my old laptop this morning so that I could have it as an option…. a very painful option.

Enter Tablet Sudoku, one of the apps I play frequently to keep my mind half distracted and combat my ADD (yes, this really works.  FreeRice.org works even better.  And yes, I am paying attention!).  We discussed during class last night if anyone had ever clicked on a banner ad.  Well, I can now say that I have.  In fact, I saw the ad last night several times, remembered it this morning, and opened the app specifically to see it again: now that is effective in-app advertising!

The ad was for a new app called CloudOn (also the name of the company).  The app is less than a month old and has seen over 10K installs already.  Based on the reviews, there may be several updates in the near future, but it’s an optimistic first go.

What makes this app different than existing word editors?  It actually reproduces the desktop experience, with (almost) full features, same layout, same functionality.  Some of the highlights and gradients are missing from the toolbar graphics, but I am not complaining.  CloudOn also fully syncs with Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive from inside the app.

I opened our gigantic draft for the project and it looks fantastic. A bit small, but everything is there, just where it’s supposed to be.  This particular file has a lot of formatting, which seemed to be slowing it down, so I switched to “draft” view and it sped right up.  Best of all, I can see all the Track Changes and comments!

With the addition of the Bluetooth keyboard that I tote around with me, this app has turned my very limited tablet into a fully functioning word-processing wizard.  I’ll run a real road test tomorrow and add an update on how it copes with a fully day of active collaboration.  At the moment, I’m very hopeful!

(oh, did I mention that this app is FREE!)

___
Update:
The features are slightly different from the full desktop version, and the app is not ideal for lots of formatting: if possible, save the formatting for home. The current version is also quite buggy. On my machine this mostly manifests when opening documents. Sometimes it gets in fits where it can’t seem to open any document at all and trying to open files crashes the app. This seems to happen if the app is left alone for long periods of time, especially if the tablet goes into standby. So far, restarting the app or the device (if all else fails) seem to help. Given this issue the app may work well for standard use as a document editor, but I recommend having a back up program, like Google docs.

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