Before we get started
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If you like number crunching and have an iPad or iOS device, I imagine that one of your biggest disappointments is the lack of Microsoft Office and Excel on the device. The latter is the mother of all spreadsheet and number crunching programs, and is used by people the world over either for some serious calculations or reasonably simple uses such as household expenditure, and if you’re a business, calculation profit. It remains a mystery why Excel isn’t on the iPad yet (presumably something to do with the Microsoft/Apple rivalry), however there are some good alternatives to Excel that already exist on iOS and that you should know about. And all of them run natively on all iOS devices.
($9.99, App Store Link)
I know what you Excel fanboys out there are going to say: Numbers sucks. Well, if you haven’t tried it, I wouldn’t speak to soon. Granted, it is more limited, but you also have to remember that we’re on iOS, and so technically everything is. I would say that Numbers is targeted more at the consumer who uses Excel than the professional. If you’re the latter, I admit that this probably isn’t the best choice, but if you’re the former, Numbers should be perfect for you.
Not only can you calculate and create elaborate tables of numbers, you can also make them more interesting and add photos and nice text to make your figures presentable, something that Excel doesn’t allow you to do. So in many ways, it actually has more possibilities than Microsoft’s program.
2. Free Spreadsheet
(free, App Store Link)
For all of you that like free stuff, this is the right Excel alternative for you. It’s much less glamorous than numbers, and the user interface seems to be less welcoming, however if you like number crunching this really shouldn’t be a problem. It will give you everything you need in terms of Excel functions and graph making, and it being free you can’t really argue with it.
While understandably some might want to pay for something more smooth and without ads, this a great way to experience something similar to Excel on a budget for your iOS device.
($2.99, App Store Link)
I would classify iSpreadsheet as the halfway mark between Numbers and Free Spreadsheet. It’s UI is slightly more appealing than the latter, and it is a lot cheaper than Numbers is. Again, this one offers all the standard Excel functionalities (as I mentioned at the start though, they will obviously be slightly more limited), and seems like a good, solid alternative to Microsoft’s number crunching software.
Ultimately I would say this. If you can afford it go for Numbers as it is the best Excel alternative on iOS until Microsoft themselves come out with an official version. It’s made by Apple and you know that it’s going work and perform well.
However, if you think $9.99 is too much, then go with one of the other two, and they are also decent. If you don’t mind ads, Free Spreadsheet is the ideal candidate, otherwise go for iSpreadsheet.