You don't need a laptop to create and edit documents on the go. With your tablet or smartphone and the right apps, you can start writing and really get things done – no matter where you are. Word processing apps work best when coupled with a physical keyboard, and there are a variety of Bluetooth keyboards that are compatible with most mobile devices. But with a good mobile word processor, you can be productive even if you're stuck punching in characters on a touch screen. Here are seven of the best apps to help you write when you're away from the office.
Pages ($9.99) - iOS
Pages, part of Apple's iWork suite of mobile productivity app, is fully integrated with Apple's iCloud online storage platform, so you can access and edit your documents from any Web-connected device. It lets you create new documents and add text, images, shapes and other elements with a few taps. And Pages features some advanced editing tools so you can track changes to individual documents, add comments and tweak styles and fonts. Pages comes pre-installed on all new iPhones and iPads; if you have an older iOS device, you'll have to shell out $10 for the iWork suite.
QuickOffice (Free) – iOS, Android
QuickOffice, Google's mobile office suite, is available on iOSas well as Android. It's fully integrated with Google Drive, the company's cloud storage platform; sign in using your Google account credentials and every document you create or edit will automatically be uploaded to the cloud. QuickOffice offers tools to insert tables, images, charts and other complex elements into your documents, and it's compatible with Microsoft Office files so you can seamlessly transition between your desktop computer and your mobile device. And all editing takes place offline in QuickOffice, so you never have to worry about losing service.
iA Writer ($5.99) – iOS
The iA Writer app, which is available for iPhone and iPad, is a minimalist word processor with some enticing features for iOS users. It eschews Apple's default keyboard in favor of its own touch-screen keyboard, which features a row of special punctuation characters, allowing for more fluid typing and editing. Meanwhile, "Focus Mode" zooms in to show you just three lines so you can concentrate on what you're typing. Syncing your documents is easy; iA Writer has options to upload your files to both iCloud and Dropbox. Formatting options, however, are limited.
Writer Pro ($19.99) – iOS
Upgrading to Writer Pro isn't cheap, but the app justifies the cost with a deep feature set. That includes a touch-screen keyboard with easy-to-access special characters and arrow keys. Writer Pro also introduces a unique set of editing tools to streamline your writing workflow. You can start writing in the simple Note interface to get your idea down; move on to Write mode, which offers tools to help you focus on the sentence you're currently typing; and finish in the Edit mode, which lets you highlight specific elements such as adjectives or propositions. As you work, Writer Pro automatically backs up your documents to either iCloud or Dropbox so you can access them from any computer or mobile device.
Kingsoft Office (Free) – iOS, Android
Kingsoft Office is a free, multiplatform productivity suite that's available for iOS and Android. It stands up to competing apps thanks to a solid feature set and an easy-to-use interface. The suite's word processor lets you write, edit and save files with relative ease, and email integration lets you send and receive documents as attachments. Editing features include the ability to change fonts and colors, tweak text alignment and insert tables. And Kingsoft Office's file backup feature lets you save and retrieve your documents from almost any device using Google Drive, Dropbox or Box.net.
Office Mobile (Free to download, requires Microsoft Office 365 subscription) – iOS, Android, Windows Phone
On the desktop, a subscription to Office 365 adds cloud support to Microsoft Office, so you can access your documents from any iOS or Android device using the Office Mobile app. That means that in order to use Office Mobile, you must already have a subscription to Office 365. Qualifying users will find a good set of features for viewing and editing Microsoft Word documents on a mobile device. Mobile documents look like their desktop counterparts, complete with any charts, tablets and graphics that were present in the originals. When you make edits or add comments to a document using Office Mobile, those changes will appear next time you access the same file on your desktop computer. You can also create new documents right within the app.