Excel apps for accountants

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In an increasingly fast-paced business environment, we’re always looking for ways to do more in less time. Here we show you some apps for editing Excel spreadsheets on the go.

Handling Excel on a mobile device isn’t a simple task. Excel is a comprehensive piece of software with an array of advanced options. Want true compatibility? Only Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 software runs a native mobile version of Excel as part of its ‘Office hub’

The lack of native compatibility means that iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry users need to try third-party solutions such as Documents To Go and Quickoffice in search of the most effective Excel-compatible experience. What do we mean by ‘effective’? Simply put, a mobile spreadsheet application is a companion to Excel, not a replacement for it. A good app will strip back the full functionality of Excel without sacrificing too much core usability.

Ideally, an effective app will let you create new spreadsheets, not just view them. You’ll be able to edit and update these; create new columns and rows; copy and paste data between cells; sort, freeze and format; and perform basic calculations. You’ll want to easily import and export Excel files (in both .XLS and .XLSX formats) without ruining the workbook’s formatting.

Is there a smartphone app that does all this? Here are three apps for mobile devices. Apps for the iPhone will also work on the iPod Touch and big-screen iPad, while apps built for Android can be used on tablet PCs that run the same software, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

Microsoft Excel Mobile, £FREE
Available for: Windows Phone 7 only

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS now delivers a far better mobile Windows experience. For business users, Office Mobile is the real draw. Alongside Outlook Mobile, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote, the dedicated ‘Office’ hub features a great version of Excel that’s fully compatible with Office 2010.

Excel Mobile doesn’t support all the features in the desktop software. But there are 114 functions, the ability to insert charts, apply filters, sort data, format cells and freeze panes.

DataViz Documents To Go Premium, £9.99
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Windows

Documents To Go first made an appearance on old Palm PDAs for viewing Office documents.

The latest version is available for almost every device and the Sheet To Go component effortlessly opens Excel (.XLS and .XLSX) files while retaining the original formatting. You can create and edit spreadsheets, export to Excel and store files on services such as Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk and SugarSync.

But large spreadsheets can crash the application, while imported documents will open as ‘read only’ files if they have functions that Documents To Go doesn’t support. There’s also no chart creation functionality, but you can’t get everything in a mobile version.

Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, £5.99
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Windows, Symbian

The Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite trumps the cheaper Quickoffice Mobile Suite with support for cloud-based document-sharing services. If you store your Excel spreadsheets in a Dropbox folder on your PC, they’re automatically available (and editable) online. Both .XLS and .XLSX formats are supported but Quickoffice works best with simple spreadsheets and basic number-crunching.

Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

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