Office Apps on the Samsung Galaxy S 4

When you pick up your Galaxy S 4 phone, you are holding as much computing power as was available in a high-end laptop five years ago and a graphics processor that would have made a hard-core gamer envious. So it’s not far-fetched to want to work on your Microsoft Office applications, which are relatively modest users of computing power, on your Galaxy S 4 while you are away from your desk.

The Galaxy S 4 phone actually doesn’t allow you to leave your computer behind for good, for a few reasons. The most basic is that the sizes of the screen and the keyboard aren’t conducive for writing novels and other similarly long documents.

What makes the most sense is to use your phone to view Office documents and make minor changes, but to leave the hard-core creation and modification efforts to a full-sized PC.

The Polaris Office 5 Suite comes on your phone to let you be productive on the road without the need to pull out your laptop. Depending on what you want to do, you might even be able to leave your heavy laptop at home.

Microsoft apps on the Galaxy S 4

Microsoft Office applications are the most popular apps for general purpose business productivity. Virtually every business uses Microsoft Office or applications that can interoperate with Microsoft file formats. As you’re probably well aware, the heavy hitters are

  • Microsoft Word: For creating and editing documents. These files use the .doc and .docx suffixes.

  • Microsoft Excel: For managing spreadsheets, performing numerical analysis, and creating charts. These files end in the .xls and .xlsx suffixes.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint: For creating and viewing presentations. These files end in the .ppt and .pptx suffixes.

The newest versions of Microsoft Office files are appended with .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx. Polaris can work with the older and newer formats, however. In general, more applications work with the older versions.

You don’t give up much by using the older version, but you do gain more compatibility with other people who aren’t as current. Over time, the discrepancies become less of an issue as more people update to the newer format.

Access Office files

The next challenge in working with Office files is keeping track of the most recent version of whatever file you’re working on. The most basic scenario is one in which you’re working on a Microsoft Office file yourself.

If you have a desktop PC, you’re probably accustomed to transferring files among different machines if you want to work on them in different locations, such as home or work. Here are your traditional options:

  • Removable media: You use a thumb drive or disc to move the file from one PC to another.

  • E-mail: You e-mail the file from one PC to another.

  • Server: You save a copy of your file from the first PC on a server that you can access from both the first and second PC.

The first option, unfortunately, is out. Your Galaxy S 4 phone doesn’t have a disc drive or a USB port for a thumb drive. You can use MicroSD cards for transferring music along with a USB holder.

Frankly, this is enough of a hassle with music files that do not change that much. It is a nightmare for Office files that are changing all the time.

This leaves you with the second two options: using e-mail or using a server. The server option calls for a little more explanation. By the way, there are two fancy terms for this kind of computing. The first one is cloud computing, the second one is time sharing.

There is also an idea called a VPN, or virtual private network. This is fairly common in businesses. Is it similar to cloud computing, but the cloud in this case is the company's computer system.

Cloud computing

The principle behind this service is that the server appears to your PC and your phone as if it is a drive or memory card that’s directly connected. If you know how to copy files from, say, your PC hard drive to a USB thumb drive, you can use a server.

When you tap a file that appears on your phone (comparable to double-clicking a file on your PC), the file is opened, and you can read and edit it. What you might not know is what computer is doing the processing. It could be your phone, and it could also be a computer on the server.

When you’re done reading or editing, the file gets saved, secure and accessible, until the next time you want to do something to the file. This is the essence of cloud computing, and your phone can happily participate.

Dropbox is a server that you can use for cloud computing. You need to sign up with Dropbox to get access to its server. You need to register, but the good news is that anyone with a Gmail account automatically has a Dropbox account. Just use your e-mail address and password, and you are set. Dropbox gives you multiple GB of storage for your files just for showing up.

Using a VPN

The idea behind a VPN is that your phone and the company’s data network set up a secret password. They know it is you because you entered your password. Any evil-doers that see your information exchanges would see gibberish. Only your phone and the company computers know how to unscramble the gibberish.

As with checking your business e-mail on your phone, make sure that your company is okay with you accessing files this way. In many cases, it is okay, but some companies have security policies that don't let you have access to every piece of data that the company has ever had while you could be sitting in a competitor’s office.

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