Update January 21, 2015: Congratulations to Milind Gadekar and the rest of the CloudOn team who announced this morning that they’re joining the Dropbox team. You can read the news in the official CloudOn announcement.
Stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech for further information about the integration of CloudOn into Dropbox.
When an app soars to the top of the iTunes, you know that app has to be something special. Chances are that app has both broad appeal and useful features. CloudOn is an app that has both.
CloudOn is an app that lets you create, edit and share Word documents on your iPad in an intuitive way. It was designed as a gesture-based app for the iPad so its features were custom-built to be used without a keyboard or a mouse.
You can change your text size, fonts, and colors. Make it bold, use italics. Add charts and graphs with taps and swipes. Resize and move text and images. All of this can be done with simple gestures.
CloudOn is the type of tech that will spoil you quickly and make you wish that other apps were this well-designed.
This video gives you a quick demo of how easily you can use CloudOn:
Background of CloudOn
I spoke to the CEO of CloudOn, Milind Gadekar, who gave me a demo of the app prior to launch. Gadekar explained that he started the company five years ago, before the iPad was introduced. He predicted that mobile devices would be the future of information sharing and had the idea of making that sharing easier.
CloudOn heard from its customers that they wanted an easy way to work on their documents from their iPads. “The best thing that happened to us was the iPad coming out,” Gadekar explained.
The company decided to focus on Microsoft Office, the “gold standard of applications,” according to Gadekar. The company’s goal was to increase the productivity of its customers by developing an efficient app that worked well with the iPad’s touch screen.
The initial CloudOn app was launched in 2012 and hit #1 in the iTunes App Store on day 1. “It’s unheard of for a company or a product to become #1 on the very first day of the app, especially for a company like CloudOn that nobody had even heard of.” Looking back, Gadekar said it was obvious why CloudOn was a hit: “because people wanted to use their iPad as a productivity device. CloudOn addressed that major need.”
In late October this year the company launched its totally redesigned CloudOn iPad app for Word, incorporating the lessons they learned from the earlier versions of the app.
Gadekar compares CloudOn features to “building blocks of productivity,” allowing people to view, share and edit Word documents on their iPad. CloudOn wants to give the user “a powerful tool to create documents that look and feel much better than they would without the app,” said Gadekar.
The company wanted to keep the app simple and not overload it with features. “We collected internal data from eight million users and 80 million documents worked on in CloudOn found that only 4% of functions in Microsoft Word are used. That’s just 50 functions out of 1,260 in Word,” according to the company.
Another goal of CloudOn was to support the Word format and make it 100% compatible with Word. If a user works on a document in CloudOn, then opens it on their PC, it should look the same on the PC as it did on their iPad, explained Gadekar.
Here are some useful features of CloudOn:
As CloudOn has “cloud” in its name, it’s no wonder that the app syncs so easily with cloud storage services. You can use CloudOn with:
- Google Drive
Gadekar explained that the company wanted to give its users as much flexibility as possible by being compatible with many cloud storage providers. For example if you use Dropbox, you can share your documents with others who use Google Drive, OneDrive and Box. Gadekar said that compatibility with Apple’s iCloud is coming soon.
You don’t need a cloud storage account to use CloudOn, you can save files locally on your iPad within the CloudOn app. But by linking your cloud storage account such as Dropbox, you can share your files with other users and access them remotely from a computer or another iPad.
The app is clean and uncluttered. CloudOn gives you more white space to work with on your screen than other document apps. “We have tried to provide the most real estate to the user by not having a menu at the top of the page. It’s a very clean interface with no clutter,” said Gadekar.
You’ll appreciate the simple design features that make CloudOn efficient to use on the iPad. For example, the menu isn’t at the top of the screen. Instead, the menu appears at the top of the keyboard, where your fingers are anyway, and disappears with the keyboard so your view of the document is maximized. The Undo and Redo buttons are on the side of the screen so you can even tap them with your thumbs.
You can collaborate on documents with others using CloudOn, even if they use a different cloud service than you. You don’t have to leave the app to share your documents with others.
Online or Offline
You can use CloudOn to create and edit Word documents even if you’re offline and away from the Internet. You can also save your documents to your iPad when you’re not connected to the Internet.
To navigate between pages, you don’t have to scroll up and down. Instead you can pinch your fingers together on the screen to get a grid view of the pages in the document and jump easily between them.
Add Photos Easily
Add photos to your documents from your iPad. You can easily add photos to your documents from your Photos app or take a picture with your iPad camera and have it appear in your document. Just tap the + sign and choose the option you want to use to add the photo. You can resize, rotate and flip the image from within the document.
You can drag and drop your photos to move them in your document and the text will automatically wrap around the photo. You can also pinch and zoom to resize the photo. “No other editor gives you the ability to move the image and have the text adjust,” said Gadekar.
He gave the example of being in a meeting and taking notes in CloudOn. You could take a photo of a white board display with your iPad camera and have that image appear in your notes.
Getting Started with CloudOn
Using CloudOn is easy and intuitive. You’re offered a tutorial when you first use the app to help you learn the gestures. Or you could just start using CloudOn and figure out the gestures on your own. Either way you’ll quickly get the hang of using this app, the learning curve is small.
You can start off by connecting your cloud storage account with Dropbox, etc. but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. If you have a cloud storage account I suggest you go ahead and connect it, the connection is very quick, even with a lot of files. Open a Word document and tap the screen to get the cursor and keyboard to appear.
The menu is at the top of the keyboard. There aren’t a lot of buttons, play around to see what each one does. You’ll soon be comfortable with using CloudOn and familiar with its features. You can’t go too wrong, your Undo button is at the ready!
My Test of CloudOn
Gadekar walked me through using the app with a demo before it launched, but because of personal circumstances I didn’t get a chance to test the app myself until about a month later. By that time my mind was clear of any recollection of how to use the app which probably was a good thing. I was starting fresh.
Using the app is simple and intuitive. The icons are obvious, such as an icon of a person for sharing your document with others and a plus sign to add images. Editing and creating documents is smooth and simple and I began enjoying editing more because the app is such a pleasure to use.
The true test is whether I’ll continue using an app after I’m done with my review. I can say with confidence that CloudOn will continue to be my Go To app for document editing.
CloudOn vs. Word
CloudOn must have made Microsoft a bit nervous. After I spoke with Gadekar and CloudOn launched, Microsoft made its Word app free to use. But while CloudOn has nearly a 5 star rating in iTunes, the Word app is only 3 stars.
CloudOn syncs with Google Drive and Box cloud services, while Word does not.
You can try both for yourself for free to see which app you like using better. You may even find that creating, editing and sharing documents is easier using CloudOn on your iPad than it is using Word on your computer.
CloudOn is a free app for the iPad, available in the iTunes App Store. A pro version is available for $3.99/month that gives you added features.
The Pro version gives you added features, including the ability to:
- Print documents directly from your iPad using AirPrint
- Export аnԁ share documents аѕ PDF’s
- Add password protection to your documents
- Add a passcode tο restrict access tο the app
Do you use Word documents on the go? Do you like the idea of a clean, intuitive app that’s easy to use? Have you tried CloudOn yet? Let us know in the Comments section below!