Quip is a modern word processor for mobile and desktop. Videep Vijay Kumar tells us about the app’s advantages and uses
If you've never thought of your phone or tablet as an effective device for creating and sharing documents, think again, because, Quip, a cross-platform word processor and collaborative tool, aims to redefine mobile productivity as we know it. Created by former Facebook and Google veterans Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, Quip will attempt to take advantage of the several hours people spend staring at their mobile devices (often rather pointlessly) every day, with the aim of converting at least a few minutes into productive ones. I can tell you that it's already succeeded, because the first paragraph of this article was typed entirely on the app on a mobile device running iOS.
But Quip is not just a glorified Notes app. Its feature set includes real-time collaborative editing, a cross-platform instant messaging tool, offline editing, folders, checklists, live tracking of document edits via a news feed (called “Diffs”), tagging users using @mentions (like Twitter), push notifications for alerts and read-receipts. On the desktop version of Quip, you can download your documents in PDF format or print them directly. You can also format your documents (basic formatting — nothing fancy), and insert images/tables into them as well. While the feature set isn’t exhaustive by word processor standards, there’s enough here for everyone who is looking for an app to do the basics on the go. The best part? Quip’s “basic” version is entirely free — download the app on iPhone or iPad (an Android release isn’t too far away), create an account, and you’re set. If you’re a business user, Quip “Business” will allow collaboration for up to 250 different users on your company’s domain for $12 a month per user. Complementing the portable versions of the app is the desktop version. Using your Quip credentials, you can log in to your account on quip.com and continue working on the same document you created only a few minutes earlier on your iPhone thanks to the power of the cloud.
The key feature, without doubt, is collaboration. You can share documents with anyone on your contact list (on phone and tablet — you can also invite users to join Quip via e-mail), choosing to send them either an e-mail or text message alert — enable push notifications and Quip will let you know when someone sends you a message, shares a document with you or makes an edit. “Diffs” are a neat addition as well — they’re the equivalent of tracking changes made to a document (as seen on MS Word or Google Docs), with the app highlighting additions made in green and deletions in red. Quip’s visual cues do a great job of showing you just the right amount of information without clutter.
Folders (which can also be shared) and an “archive” option let you save precious real estate on your mobile or tablet screen by having only current documents for quicker access — but don’t fret, your archived messages are merely stored in another folder, and can be brought back to life at any moment. At the time of writing this article, Quip did have a few minor annoyances. Email alerts, for example, were enabled by default, so every single chat message I exchanged with a collaborator popped into my inbox as a separate mail (I subsequently had to disable this on the web interface). I also had trouble creating an account using my Gmail credentials — Quip threw up an error saying Google wasn't reachable, but another press of the “sign up” button fixed the problem, as the app asked for authorisation. But overall, Quip is a simple, intuitive and effective collaborative word processor for mobile and desktop.