Smartphones

Turn an Android device into a word processing tool

Jack Wallen reviews the beta release of TextMaker Viewer 2010, a free document viewer. Find out what his one gripe is with the tool.

Android users who are in need of a full-blown word processor that can handle tasks while they're on the go should check out the beta release of TextMaker Viewer 2010, the free word processor piece of the SoftMaker Office Suite. SoftMaker is known for being a solid, lightweight, and fast cross-platform office suite, but how well does it perform as a mobile word processor? Let's install it and find out. (The tool is available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.)

Beta release

As of this writing, the SoftMaker Android release is still in beta testing, so check the SoftMaker Blog for updates. There is no word on whether the software will only be available through the Android Market or as a download (I hope SoftMaker makes its Office Suite available through the Android Market). For my review, I was sent .apk files for each of the tools, so I will discuss installing the tools via .apk files and not the Android Market. If it's only available as a download, users with AT&T Android devices are out of luck unless the device has been rooted.

Features

The SoftMaker Office Suite for Android will be quite different than the product for other platforms, mostly because the Android port will make use of the native Android elements, as opposed to the standard SoftMaker UI. Other than the interface, the feature that will appeal to the most users is the file support. This is the full list of supported files:

  • .tmd - TextMaker document
  • .tmv - TextMaker template
  • .doc - Microsoft Word document
  • .dot - Microsoft template
  • .odt - Open Document
  • .ott - Open Document Template
  • .rtf - Rich text document
  • .sxw - OpenOffice 1 document
  • .pws - Pocket Word-Pocket document
  • .pwd - Pocket Word-Handheld document
  • .html - Hyper text markup language
  • .txt - Text document

TextMaker Viewer 2010 also includes the following:

  • Insert table
  • Comments
  • Track changes
  • Document statistics
  • Plenty of configuration options, which helps make it a standout when compared to the word processing tools on the Android Market.

Installing TextMaker Viewer 2010

The only way you can currently install TextMaker Viewer 2010 is by downloading and installing the .apk file provided by SoftMaker. Follow these steps:

1. Download the ,apk file.

2. When the file download is complete, drag the notification bar down and tap the download listing.

3. When prompted, tap to install. This will open the installation dialog (Figure A). Figure A

Heed the warnings for installation so you know what TextMaker Viewer 2010 needs to access.

4. Tap the Install button, and the installation will proceed and finish.

When the installation is complete, TextMaker Viewer 2010 can be started from within the application drawer. When you open TextMaker Viewer 2010, it behaves exactly as a word processor is expected. In fact, the Android port of TextMaker Viewer 2010 looks (Figure B) and behaves more like a desktop word processor than any other mobile word processor I've tried. Figure B

I edited this post in TextMaker Viewer 2010 on a Verizon Droid X mobile phone.

Using TextMaker Viewer 2010

TextMaker Viewer 2010 shines when used on an Android-based tablet. I had the privilege of using TextMaker Viewer 2010 on a Verizon Xoom Android tablet and was blown away by how well it performed. The Android platform elements greatly enhanced the experience by simply being out of the way; the focus was very much on the document at hand, and the tool didn't suffer in the slightest by having those elements out of the way. All of the features were quick to access simply by tapping the Android Menu button.

One gripe with TextMaker Viewer 2010

If your mobile device already has an office tool installed (such as QuickOffice), any document opened and saved by QuickOffice will cause a force quit of TextMaker Viewer 2010. So the best choice is to make sure documents are directly downloaded to the SD card and are not opened by another tool first.

Conclusion

The beta release of TextMaker Viewer 2010 performed solidly -- it even has more features than the pre-installed QuickOffice and just about any other word processor I have found for the Android platform. If you are looking for a powerhouse of a word processor for the Android platform, once TextMaker Viewer 2010 is released, I think it will be the answer to your mobile word processing dreams.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

3 comments
etomascruz
etomascruz

considering the usefulness of this app, in comparison to the "inexpensive" editors out there, i do believe this is worth a try. however, this article instructs how to install the app, but it doesn't say WHERE to download the apk file. heading over to the developer's site offers only a download for windows, windows mobile, windows ce, and lnux. more info please?

seanferd
seanferd

You'll have to wait until the software is released.

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