It's a strange world when an announcement from Microsoft gets the Apple Faithful giddy with joy.
Recently Big Redmond released a version of their cloud hosted Office 365 for iOS. Get this..., you can use it for free!!! (Free for home use only. Business use requires a paid subscription.)
I know, I know. Soon we'll have peace in the Middle East, verified alien contact with benign fuzzy beach balls willing to give us the secrets of the universe and only ask for a pound of sand in return, and marijuana will be legalized in every state in the Union.
Wait! That last one may actually happen.
Anyway, if you have an iPad then you should seriously think about getting some, if not all of the Office 365 suite. Download them, then remove them from your device. Why? Because they are piggy apps. MS Word alone is 246 MB!! Do you REALLY need Word on your iPad?
For some of you the answer is yes, of course. You could use Pages, which is also free if you've recently bought an iOS device, but why deal with a compatible (though worthy) app when you can have the real thing for free?
Pages is 263MB, that's actually bigger than Word, but it'll run on your iPhone. Word won't. So I ask the question again; do you really need MS Word on your iPad?
Not everyone owns a 64GB iPad. I have a 32GB Air and with all the photos in my portfolio (I'm a part time photographer.), documents and apps I'm perennially reviewing that 32GB gets sucked up fast. So space is a concern for me. If I'm not constantly using an app it gets tossed into the gulag, that's my term for the cloud where any app I've "bought," but don't use stays. Some never get downloaded again, some make it back into my app lineup from time to time.
I can see Word getting used occasionally, but there are much leaner apps out there that can get most text chores done without the bloat, and some are equally free (well...not equally free).
This being Free on iTunes you know I'm gonna mention a few, so let's get to it.
Textilus Free Edition [37.2 MB, runs on all iPads capable of running iOS 7.0 or later, Maker: Umanify]
Textilus is popular for a reason.
Weighing in at a svelte 37MB, Textilus Free Edition gives you much of what you want in a word processor without the bulk.
Text formatting, fonts, multimedia inserts, pagination and more are all there. In fact, Textilus has so many features that you'll wonder just what isn't included. For instance, there's a cool little cursor controller in the center of the toolbar above the keyboard. I'm not sure why you'd want to use it on a touch screen device, but it's there.
Another great feature is its built in text to speech function. This is a very useful when editing documents. And it's a great way to break the silence.
Nice formatting and more without the bulk of Word
The app outputs files in several universal formats and to a variety of cloud services, unfortunately you'll have to pay for that feature. The free version lets you save your document and export it to your clipboard to paste elsewhere. The free version also limits how many documents you can store (doesn't say exactly how many). If you can live with the limitations Textilus Free could be the one.
Docs Unlimited Free [12.1 MB, runs on all iOS devices capable of running iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: Appverse]
Confusing interface is not the only problem here
This one's a bit strange. Docs Unlimited Free is truly free. There's nothing more to buy or upgrade to, and there are no ads. It lets you create or edit Microsoft Office documents and those created with LibreOffice and OpenOffice, both of which uses the Open Document Standard.
At 11MB it's the smallest of the three offerings here, that's because the actual work isn't done on your device. Doc U Free is actually a front end app to a version of LibreOffice that's server based. While this solution works there are two problem:
1. You must have Internet connectivity to use it.
2. It's slow.
Trying to write in Docs U Free is like typing in cold syrup. If you have a slow web connection then it become nearly impossible to use.
I mention Docs U Free because it may get you through a pinch.
Easy Writer Lite [15.1 MB, runs on all iPads capable of running iOS 5.1 or later, Maker: Infovole e.K.]
Nice and Easy Writer Lite.
I like Easy Writer Lite. It's got a clean interface, big work area, functions I'd actually use, and has lots of unique features. All good stuff.
I also like the extra keys along the bottom of the screen. They stay there whether you use the virtual keyboard or bluetooth, and they keys makes sense (at least they do to me).
For instance, hit the uppercase button with the cursor anywhere on a word and it will change the first character to uppercase, hit it again and all the characters in the word change to uppercase. Hit it one more time and they all go back to lower case. Simple. Easy. Smart.
Lots of output options too
Like the Textilus, Easy Writer Lite won't do cloud storage unless you pay, but that doesn't make it useless. It'll let you dump your draft text into another app (like Pages, but not Word). What's interesting here is that you can open and save it in Dropbox using this method. You don't get the autosave convenience of the paid version, but at least you can save it to a cloud.
Every so often a popup will ask you if you want to download a game or other app. That seems to be the extent of ads. I can live with that.
Easy Writer Lite is really worth a look.
Well, there you have it. Three free light weight word processors that could replace Word, but is it worth the inconvenience these free versions bring? If your iPad is space constrained then one of these may help. Otherwise living with chubby Word is actually a good thing.