Google has launched a free iPad app to allow its paying business customers to edit Microsoft Office documents.
The new offering from Google, a free version of the Quickoffice iPad app, is the latest development in an ongoing battle for mobile users of office software. Google acquired the makers of Quickoffice in June as part of its efforts to challenge Microsoft on the emerging tablet and smartphone platform.
The search giant said in a blog post Wednesday it will offer a version of Quickoffice at no charge to paying subscribers of Google Apps, its online bundle of applications for working with text, spreadsheet and presentation files. Quickoffice is an iPad app for creating and editing Microsoft documents that works with Google's online storage service, Google Drive.
Rumors persist that Microsoft will soon launch iOS and Android versions of its Office suite, though the company has denied comments by a subsidiary that such apps will come early next year. Microsoft's newly launched Office 365 subscription plans allow customers to install Office on multiple devices for a monthly fee, as opposed to buying the software outright.
In addition to the newly offered free version of the Quickoffice iPad app made available to Google Apps subscribers, a paid version is still available for US$7.99. Quickoffice emerged as a leading office suite on iOS for working with Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, before it was acquired by Google.
Google also said it has incorporated Quickoffice technology for converting documents from Microsoft formats into its Google Docs formats. The company showed an example of an Excel spreadsheet conversion that now includes images and charts when converted to Google's online format.
Earlier this month, Google said it will end a free version of Google Apps, which it had offered for a limited numbers of users since the launch of the suite in 2007. Google charges US$50 per user, per year, for its service.
Microsoft's Office 365 online service offers a plan from US$6 per user, per month.