A couple days ago I wrote about a new app/cloud service that brings full Microsoft Office functionality to your iPad. A lot has happened since that post and some new information has become available as well. This catches up on what I think is of interest to lawyers about this important app.
- App and Service Status. After briefly pulling CloudOn from the App Store in a move to freeze further sign ups, CloudOn is back in the store but the service sign ups will be handled in waves. According to CloudOn:
There will be a limited number of notifications sent in each wave, and they will be sent on a first come, first serve basis to individuals who have pre-registered for the notification.
During this time, the application will be available in the public app store, and anyone who wishes to download it can do so without having received a notification. We will also provide a status update on a web page that will display whether or not the app is currently available.
To be alerted by email when the service application is available, fill out this form. If you got the app and signed up as part of the initial or follow on signups, you can continue to use the service.
- Version Support. CloudOn documents use the Office 2010 format.
- Security. Closely related to privacy are the security protocols used by the service. CloudOn reports that:
From a security standpoint, none of your files are stored permanently on any of our systems. Your files are pulled only when you need them. Once you’ve finished editing them, they are saved back to Dropbox and wiped from our systems. We encrypt your credentials and also have 256-bit encryption between our servers and your client. We take pains to audit our security processes and improve them on a regular basis.
- Internet Access Required. In response to a reader question, yes, an internet connection is required to use the service.
- Cost. The service is still free. It looks like CloudOn is using this free period to gather feedback on how the service is used so it can come up with a pricing plan that fits user needs. At this point, the service remains free and CloudOn says that part of the application will remain free even when pricing tiers are introduced.
- General Usability. I used the service to edit a 15 page shareholder agreement last night. The document was a multi-leveled contract with automatic numbering, cross references and other typical formatting for a detailed agreement. The document appeared and performed just like on my desktop version of Word with the exceptionthat I was unable to add a new sub-level of numbered items (looks like other users have had similar troubles). I especially like how text is selected. Rather than using the typical iOS “handles” to select text, selecting text in CloudOn is very similar to how you would do it on your desktop: click (or in this case, long press) and drag. Text selection shortcuts like triple-click (tap) to select a paragraph work as well. The app is quite slow when scrolling around a document.
- Keyboard Shortcuts. In my limited tests, CloudOn does not appear to support keyboard shortcuts for command access or formatting.
- Auto-Save. CloudOn doesn’t have a “save” feature. Rather, the app auto-saves your work periodically like other iPad apps. This generally worked well for me, though in one instance I was greeted with the unhelpful error to the effect that “There was a network glitch…” which kicked me out of the document I was working on. When I reopened the document, all my changes from that editing session were gone. I’ve taken to manually saving from time to time. I do this by tapping the File tab in the upper left hand corner. This briefly shows me the file browser but also shows “Auto-saving…” in the status bar. From browsing the CloudOn support forum, I don’t see anyone else reporting this problem. I don’t think manual saving is how the app is intended to run. Perhaps it was a one-off.
- Dropbox Versions. One person in the CloudOn support forums reports that the version history for a document edited with Cloudon was lost. I have not experienced this. Again, perhaps a one-off.
- Right Click. To “right-click” something in your document, simply tap and hold. A contextual menu will appear with the typical right-click options.
- No Multitasking. If you switch away from the CloudOn app during an editing session, you will need to reopen the document when you switch back to the app. Changes are saved when you exit the app. Reopening the document returns you to where you were when you exited the app.