iPhone App Review: Polaris Office

iPhone App Review: Polaris Office

August 31st, 2012 by

One of the iPhone’s weak spots, in my opinion, is office apps. There are plenty of them to be sure, including Apple’s own iWork suite, but it’s been a typically under-represented category in the productivity area of the App Store, and the apps that are out there are either too simplistic or too feature-rich for their own good.

Polaris Office is a relative newcomer in the office suite arena, and packs a huge feature-rich punch while still keeping things intuitive and straightforward. It has support for viewing, editing, and creating Ms Office documents, viewing PDF and HWP documents, storage to numerous cloud services, inserting of photos from your library into documents, running slideshows, built-in templates, charts, and figures, and more.

How It Works

Polaris Office supports the creation right on the device of all of the major Office format documents: doc/docx, xls/xlsx, ppt/pptx, and plain text files as well. You can also add cloud accounts to download from and save to: Dropbox, Google Docs, and Box.net for now with more promised in the future). There are also numerous templates you can use to kick-start a document.

Editing a document is as simple as tapping the screen and typing. There are minimal icons on the screen that bring up dialogues for inserting graphics, changing object properties, adding elements to your documents, etc. There’s very little room on the smaller-screen version of the app for menus and icons, but they’ve made do nicely with what little space is there. The iPad version naturally fares better because of the greater screen real estate.

Selecting a document from a cloud service is as easy as first adding your service to the app, then selecting it from the list once you’re logged in. Saving is similarly straightforward, though saving to a cloud service naturally takes a bit longer than saving it locally because of the network upload.

Pros And Cons

Polaris Office strikes me as a nice balance between the simplistic hand-holding of Apple’s iWork apps and the utilitarian starkness of QuickOffice or Documents To Go. Polaris has simple, on-screen controls that let you manipulate images and object properties in a visual, intuitive way. The controls are also attractive and well-designed, placing the menu selections that you need where you would expect to find them.

I also found working with Polaris fast, at least on my iPhone 4 (not 4s). It handled fairly large documents well, including a year-long checkbook register spreadsheet that I use to test office apps. It usually bogs down iWork and QuickOffice, but Polaris handled it well. The charts and on-screen rendering of the documents looks attractive and clear, giving you the feeling that even though you’re working on a handheld device you’re doing serious work.


Polaris is a great choice for those in need of a mobile Office-app solution. At $12.99 it’s not cheap, but it’s also a universal app that features editing of all three major Office document types. When you add it up that way it’s actually competitive in price to all of the other solutions, and gives you everything you need under one app icon.

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