Today Google made Quickoffice—its app for creating and editing Microsoft Office documents—free to all users of iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
Quickoffice was bought by Google a year ago, and it has provided editing of Microsoft Office documents in their native formats on mobile devices for more than a couple of years. The app cost $20, but Google made it free to companies that are paying subscribers of Google Apps for Business. With today's update, it's free to everyone with a Google account, whether you pay for a Google Apps subscription or not.
Google already provided editing of Google Docs on its Drive application, of course. But while Microsoft Office documents can be imported into Docs, Quickoffice lets users edit them without taking that step, which can reduce compatibility.
"While the easiest thing to do is simply convert your old files to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, Quickoffice gives you another way to work with people who haven’t gone Google yet," Google said today. People who log in to Quickoffice for iOS or Android before September 26 also get an extra 10GB of Google Drive storage (for two years only).
If you want free editing of Office documents on mobile devices without going Google, Documents Unlimited is another option. Apple is also making iWorks free with new iOS device purchases.
Quickoffice, or any application not named "Microsoft Office," isn't going to provide all the advanced editing capability of the real thing. Microsoft did release its own version of Office for iOS and Android, but those require a subscription to Office 365.
A free version of Quickoffice doesn't really change the competitive balance between Office 365 and Google Apps for Business, since both cloud services cost money anyway. But it does give Google users one less reason to pay for the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents on mobile devices.