Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Applications

The Top Office Suites for iPad

Critics may once have argued against any office suite on the iPad on the grounds that it's a consumer-oriented tablet meant for media consumption, not for producing work. With the march of the iPad into the workplace over the past year and a half, however, that belief has fallen by the wayside. Ryan Faas discusses ways to create images and presentations (and to show them), work with financial data, and even type long form content with new office suites for the iPad.
Like this article? We recommend

Critics may once have argued against any office suite on the iPad on the grounds that it's a consumer-oriented tablet meant for media consumption, not for producing work. With the march of the iPad into the workplace over the past year and a half, however, that belief has fallen by the wayside.

Even without an external keyboard, it is possible to create images and presentations (and to show them), work with financial data, and even type long form content (I've actually written 2,000-word pieces on an iPad—though it is slower going if you don't have a USB or Bluetooth keyboard).

In fact, the iPad has found its way into virtually every type of workplace and profession. With its incredibly broad selection of apps, it shouldn't be surprising that there are many that fit match a wide variety of different jobs. Those job-specific apps make the iPad a tailored solution in settings as varied as hospitals, car dealerships, airplane cockpits, schools, real estate offices, retail stores, restaurants, and just about anyplace else.

While niche-specific apps help the iPad fit uniquely into specific professional roles, the more general business and office functions seem to garner less attention. While many of us have tools specific to our fields and positions, many of us also rely on some very core, uniform tools to get work done. Chief among those tools is some type of office application suite.

For most of us, that suite is Microsoft Office, though for some it may be Apple's iWork, the open source Open Office suite, or another product. Despite the specific product, office suites always tend to include three core applications for word processing, working with spreadsheets, and creating/viewing presentations (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in the Microsoft Office package). Although they might also include additional tools for processes such as page layout, drawing, calendar, and task management, those three applications are the backbone of any office suite, and we're used to seeing them on our computers even if we routinely only use one or two of the three.

While the iPad might not be the first device to come to mind when you think about any of these three core types of apps, a handful of full-featured office suites are out there for the iPad. They offer compatibility with the standard Microsoft Office file formats (a must in any office suite, regardless of the device) and they all work pretty well.

Here's your guide to the four most full-featured office suites available for the iPad, the features that set them apart from each other, and the overall pros and cons that each offers.


The Apple iWork suite (http://ax.search.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZSearch.woa/wa/search?entity=iPadSoftware
) was the first set of office apps available for the iPad and is the one that comes most immediately to mind. The suite ships as three separate titles (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) instead of a single all-purpose app (unlike the other suites in this list, which ship as a single purchase/app).

The iWork apps, like their Mac-based counterparts, use their own file types but can import the standard Microsoft Office file formats as well. Unlike the Mac versions of the iWork apps, the iPad versions cannot save/export documents in Office formats even if the documents imported were originally in those formats

As with the Mac-based iWork apps, the iPad versions are very polished and Apple-like offerings. Users of iWork for Mac will feel right at home, but Windows or Microsoft Office users may be a bit thrown by them at first.

Pages, for example goes beyond the word processing features available in Word and offers layout features that you might expect to find in Quark or In Design (although they're much easier to use).

Similarly, Numbers takes a layout-oriented approach to spreadsheets that is attractive to home users and small businesses for its visual approach and ability to create full documents in addition to the traditional sheets with their familiar grids.

Keynote comes closest to the Microsoft Office experience of PowerPoint, but it is also infused with Apple's design approach (which actually makes it somewhat easier to create presentations loaded with animations, special-effect transitions, and eye-catching visuals).

The very design-centric approach is actually a big advantage in some ways because creating documents that look like they were produced by a professional design shop is quite easy (and printing and external display support, including AirPlay, is baked into all three apps). However, the bells and whistles maybe seem like unneeded clutter to longtime Office users and others who simply don't need all the added visual capabilities.

Whatever your take on the visual nature of iWork (on a Mac or iPad) compared with other office suites (or Office itself on a PC or Mac), iWork does fall short when it comes to accessing or sharing files with the array of common cloud-based services today, and its file management is apt to confuse many new iPad users (and even some experienced ones).

It's also worth noting that, as a set, the iWork apps are more expensive than any of their counterparts.

  • Price: $9.99/app
  • Local file storage/transfer: iTunes
  • Cloud services supported: Mobile Me's iDisk, iWork.com (export only), WebDAV services
  • Document types supported: Microsoft Office 97[nd]2003, Microsoft Office 2007+ (import only), iWork
  • Pros: Amazing set of visual tools (templates, image effects, and so on), ease of use, integration with other Apple solutions (including AirPrint (http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/airprint.html) and AirPlay (http://www.apple.com/itunes/airplay/)
  • Cons: Limited cloud support; no simple option to save/export Office file formats; visual tools/feature may overload users who don't need them
  • Overall: If you're a fan of iWork on the Mac, iWork on the iPad will probably appeal to you. If you want something similar to a true office suite, you'll likely want to consider one of the other options.

One important consideration, however, is that you can buy the iWork apps a la carte—meaning that if you like the visual interface and capabilities of Keynote or want the occasional layout features of Pages, you can buy just one app and add it to another option for other types of tasks.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020