Google acquired Quickoffice earlier in the year in a somewhat surprising move. Surprising because Google already had its own office tools suite and Quickoffice was built around Microsoft's document formats. But that's precisely why Google wanted the company, for the conversion technology and for the actual apps.
And it's already putting it to good use, it's using the technology to create better conversions of Microsoft documents into native Google Docs ones and it's also releasing a free version of the Quickoffice app for Google Apps customers.
"You’ve always had the option to convert documents from popular formats into Google Docs, where you can share and work together in real-time," Google explained
"In the past few months, we’ve incorporated Quickoffice conversion technology into this process so your Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files look even better when you convert them to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides," it added.
Google Docs users have been able to convert documents from several formats into native ones for years. But some of the more complex details got lost in the conversion, it only worked perfectly or close enough for the simpler documents.
Google provides a great example of this, using the old conversion technology, only the basic data in a spreadsheet was preserved. With the Quickoffice method, the table formatting, images and charts are all carried over.
What this means is that you can import more existing documents and edit them in Google Docs natively. This feature has been available to regular Docs users for a couple of months, but Google has even more in store for Apps users.
For those that can't switch to Google Docs completely just yet, Google is offering the Quickoffice mobile app for free to Google Apps customers.
It's just the iPad version for now, but the iPhone and Android versions of the app are getting the same treatment soon, Google says.
This serves as quite a big pre-emptive strike against Microsoft's own cloud office tools. Microsoft has no Office tools for the iPad, though the rumor is it's been working on them for quite a while. Now, by the time Microsoft releases Office for the iPad, Google will already have a competitor offering it for free no less.