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Kingsoft Office for Android Brings Free Document Editing to Your Mobile Devices

Amazingly, this robust app costs absolutely nothing. It's not perfect, but it's definitely something mobile workers should check out.

A few months back I called Kingsoft Office the best Microsoft Office alternative you've never heard of. Now Kingsoft is making waves again with a mobile version of that impressive suite.

Kingsoft Office for Android lets you open, edit, and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations right on your smartphone or tablet. And it's noteworthy not just for its Microsoft Office compatibility, but also its price: the app is free.

How good could a free office suite be? In this case, pretty darn good. The app supports Word, Excel, and PowerPoint file formats, meaning you should be able to open and edit any existing documents you want to bring along.

It also lets you create these kinds of documents from scratch, saving them either to your device or any cloud-storage service that supports WebDAV. Alas, Dropbox isn't one of them, but Box.net does -- and support for that service is built directly into the app.

I'm particularly impressed by Kingsoft Office's interface. Like the desktop version, it employs tabs for easy switching between multiple open documents. And it just plain looks nice, especially on a tablet, which is where an app like this makes the most sense.

Indeed, if you've been wondering whether a tablet can really take the place of a laptop, Kingsoft Office adds a big checkmark to the "yes!" column. For any serious document work, I think you'll want to pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard -- but then you're good to go (both literally and figuratively).

One note for Kindle Fire users: You can find Kingsoft Office in the Amazon Appstore, but it shows up there as a trial version. To get the full-featured free version that's available from Google Play, you'll need to venture into the settings, enable Allow Installation of Application From Unknown Sources, and then sideload the app. If you're not sure how, a little Web searching will reveal the necessary steps. (It's easy.)

If you've tried any of the other office-suite apps for Android, hit the comments and let me know if you think they're any better -- and why. For my money (in this case no money), the best option by far is Kingsoft's.

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