As Google last week introduced new features for its online and Android productivity apps, it also quietly announced that it has halted development on Quickoffice and would soon pull the free software from the Google Play and Apple App Store.
"With the integration of Quickoffice into the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, the Quickoffice app will be unpublished from Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks," Google stated in a short announcement posted to the Google Apps blog last Wednesday. "Existing users with the app can continue to use it, but no features will be added and new users will not be able to install the app."
As of Sunday, Quickoffice was still available in both Google Play and the iOS App Store.
The demise of Quickoffice was not unexpected. In late April, Google unbundled its monolithic Google Drive app -- previously the starting point for accessing Google Docs, Sheets or Slides files from a smartphone or tablet -- into three separate apps for Android and iOS, making Quickoffice even more redundant than it had been previously.
On the same day last week that it announced the end of Quickoffice, Google also unveiled changes to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, the word processing, spreadsheet and presentation maker that comprise the document creation and editing parts of Google Apps for Business. Topmost among those changes was the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents , specifically those for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, without the need to first convert them to Google's own formats.
Google pitched the change as one to make it easier for Google Apps for Business users to share Microsoft Office-edited files with others. Microsoft Office remains the standard in nearly all businesses, and the file formats -- .docx for Word, .xlsx for Excel and .pptx for PowerPoint -- are pervasive.
On the Android mobile app versions of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, the in-place Office document editing was enabled with updates on June 25. Google has not yet updated the iOS versions of Google Docs or Sheets to include the functionality, or for that matter released Google Slides for the iPhone and iPad. Those updates will presumably occur in the next few weeks.
On the desktop, Chrome OS users have immediate access to in-place editing of Microsoft documents; those with the Chrome browser on Windows and OS X must first download and install an 11.5MB new extension from the Chrome Web Store. The extension is free.
Those moves were a response to changes Microsoft made in late March, when it shipped Office for the iPad, and cut the ties between Office 365 and Office Mobile on Android and iOS. The free Office Mobile apps could be downloaded and used free of charge to create, edit and view documents.
To create new documents and edit existing ones on Office for iPad the user must have an active Office 365 subscription.
Google acquired Quickoffice in June 2012, then rolled the firm's development team into its Google Apps group. In the two year since, Google has used Quickoffice in its battle with Microsoft for both consumer and corporate productivity customers on mobile devices.
It baked the Quickoffice technology into its Chrome OS and Chrome browser, and relied on it to boost the fidelity of Microsoft Office documents opened in Google Apps for Business, the cloud-based suite that costs $50 per user per year, and is the Mountain View, Calif. company's linchpin in its quest for enterprise productivity customers.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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