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Wherever Word travels, Excel cannot be far behind—and at long last, Microsoft has allowed the number crunching favorite to follow the money trail straight into the App Store with a touchscreen version built just for iPad. Microsoft Excel for iPad ends years of suffering with less-powerful third-party solutions that have been all too happy to encroach in Redmond’s absence. Like Word, Excel for iPad is in most respects a superior effort over the venerable Mac application, offering an impressively clean user interface that doesn’t skimp on features.
In particular, the iPad touchscreen is put to great use here with a customized keyboard expressly designed to make data entry easier. Why include the entire alphabet when entering numeric data? Excel for iPad switches between the two with only a tap, which is also all it takes to leap from sheet to sheet within a single workbook. Switching between Home, Insert, Formulas, Review, View, and Table modes is equally easy.
We had no problem opening a variety of file formats (including CSV and legacy XLS), although in many cases we were prompted to convert and save an entirely new version before being able to edit. Excel for iPad is free to download, but you’ll need to purchase an Office 365 subscription to actually do anything beyond viewing. A new Personal plan makes this cheaper than ever at $69.99 per year for one computer and tablet, although we’d still like to see Microsoft introduce a cheaper mobile-only option priced at $49.99 or less.
Subscription grievances aside, Excel for iPad only truly stumbles when it comes to file management and output. Like Word, there’s currently no way to print or save to PDF, and both apps suffer from spotty OneDrive cloud file sync, which is unfortunately the only option available. We frequently discovered duplicate saved files, particularly after opening on the Mac side and then returning to iPad.
The bottom line. When it comes to actually getting work one, Excel for iPad is another home run for Microsoft, although the company needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to actual file management.
iPad running iOS 7.0 or later
Keyboard customized for numeric data entry. Streamlined touchscreen user interface. Delivers the best of Excel in tablet form.
No printing or save as PDF feature. Poor file management. OneDrive frequently creates duplicate files. Requires Office 365 subscription to create or edit documents.