Features & Use
Aside from Microsoft Office – the pillar of word processing, OpenOffice has come out of the woodwork with a very good reputation. Since this free alternative is gaining a lot of fans and support, I decided to test OpenOffice Document Reader – an app that allows you to read your OpenOffice Documents on your Android device.
Since the end of the last decades, new technology has allowed people’s ability to stay connected wherever they are. With smartphones, tablets and netbooks you can work from virtually any location. There is growing need to be able to access information with increasing mobility and ease. Part of that is using your word processor away from the your regular computer.
For Android devices, OpenOffice Document Reader is basically the only option available for doing so.
I used to run OpenOffice on my notebook, but I have since switched to using LibreOffice. Just a couple of months back, Oracle (the company behind OpenOffice) got into a huge conflict with a large number of independent developers. As a result, LibreOffice was created as a splint-off from OpenOffice. Most developers have since then embraced LibreOffice and OpenOffice is bound to disappear sooner or later.
For those of you thinking about switching shouldn’t be too worried: LibreOffice is virtually identical with OpenOffice so there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues.
Gradually, LibreOffice is going to take steps to distance itself from OpenOffice by developing more functionality and better controls.
Now back to the actual app!
The OpenOffice Document Reader (OODR) may be limited in terms of functions, but it does what it’s designed to do: display documents. This feature works with text documents (.odt) and tables (.ods). In both cases, it is irrelavent whether the document comes from OpenOffice or LibreOffice. Interactive presentations are not supported at the moment, but it could be added in the near future. So how does OODR perform?
Really well! Navigate to the main menu by pressing the menu button and click Open to start searching for documents. Here’s a tip for those of you who have Filemanager or the equivalent installed on their phones: OODR is going to ask which program you would like to use to search for documents. I recommend selecting the OpenOffice Document Chooser for this purpose. It’s much more efficient and effective than your file manager. Once you’ve found the document in question, simply click to open it.
One of the best things about this app: the text formatting remains mostly the same. During my test, the app managed to correctly display documents with both pictures and charts. Only with really complex formatting (i.e. complicated graphs) did the app make any formatting mistakes. Any document is always readable even with some minor errors. You can zoom in using multi-touch or by pressing the +/- symbols displayed on the screen. Zooming and switching between pages can be don via the menu. The text gets automatically formatted and correctly displayed at virtually all zoom levels. According to the app, you are supposed to be able to zoom in by double-tapping the screen, but this never worked during my test.
Links included in the text can be clicked and opened with the Android Browser.
The OpenOffice Document Reader is perfectly suited for viewing text documents and tables on your Android device. The formatting remains good except for really complex documents with multiple tables, charts, pictures and graphs. It’s shame that you can’t create documents using OODR (even really simples ones). I also wish the app could open and display presentation slides.
All in all, OODR is extremely basic, but very useful nonetheless.
Screen & Controls
The OpenOffice Document Reader controls are about as simple as they get. Zoom with multi-touch or using the on-screen +/- buttons. Double-tapping to zoom does not, however, work despite what the developer's promises.
Speed & Stability
Nothing to grumble about here. OpenOffice Document Reader opens files quickly, zooms perfectly and didn’t crash a single time.
OpenOffice Document Reader can be downloaded for free from the AndroidPIT App Center or the Android Market.