This post was published 9 years ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
I’ve been wishing for this to happen for a long time and now it looks like we are almost there: LibreOffice is coming to Android.
At the LibreOffice Conference, the Document Foundation announced that it plans to migrate LibreOffice to Android devices. They have told that 90% of the codebase will be kept the same and the 10% difference will be in the interface. This should mean we will get the full power of the desktop suite but with a more modern, touch optimised interface. It also means that most of the work is already done as the base is already working on Android.
So why is this such a big deal, I hear you ask. We already have loads of pretty good options for editing documents on the go, right? Google Docs, Office Suite Pro, WPS Office etc. Well you see the thing is, none of these really offer the full capability of a desktop client, nor do they offer the same level of file compatibility.
The current applications do not write Microsoft Office format files as well as LibreOffice does on the desktop but prehaps more of an issue is that none of them have support for opening, editing and saving to the Open Document format at all.
WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office) does not support ODF whatsoever. Office Suite Pro does support opening ODF but will not save to ODF and does not fully support all its features. Google Docs doesn’t offer native support for ODF (though you can import and export).
There is AndrOpen Office which is great but is just a straight port of OpenOffice for Android and keeps the old desktop interface which is very cumbersome on tablets and totally useless on phones. It also does not integrate into the system as well because it doesn’t run truly natively. Look at the screenshot below to see what I mean.
LibreOffice for Android will fix these problems and bring something that, as noted by TechRepublic, Android really needs.
This is especially significant, given how widespread the adoption of the ODF format has become (Britain has mandated ODF as their official format for all government documents). Android needs this. Actually, the mobile sector needs this.
Another exciting possibility this will bring is that with Android apps now coming to Chrome OS this could mean LibreOffice running on a Chromebook. This is something that is possible through the use of another Linux distro but not yet under Chrome OS and would potentially be a huge plus for that platform too.
However, before you get too excited, the developers have yet to give a release date. They are currently still working around Google’s 50MB APK limit. This may sound odd to some of you as you have likely encountered apps larger than 50MB in the Play Store but the limit only applies to the APK files and expansion ‘obb’ files can be used if required. The 50MB APK is then downloaded first, followed by the expansion files.
The difficulty is that at present the smallest the developers have managed to shrink the main APK to is 54MB. Once they find the way to slim it down by a further 4MB it should be very close to being ready. So for now we just have to wait.
What do you guys think, are you excited for LibreOffice on Android? Let us know in the comments!