Why it’s a struggle to use spreadsheets on a tablet

<Why it's a struggle to use spreadsheets on a tablet
I’ve tried – god knows I’ve tried but spreadsheets and tablets don’t really mix. Sure you can create one on a real computer and then do minor adjustments on the go but to start from scratch and create something useful is too painful and in my opinion not worth trying.


Cells and touch interfaces are a match made in hell. Zoom far enough out to be able to see a reasonable amount of data and you may find it hard to select the correct cell. Zoom in to be able to accurately select a cell with one of your pinkies and you will probably find yourself scrolling around the spready getting lost.

On screen keyboard

Once you’ve managed to select a cell to pop some data or a formula in then the onscreen keyboard comes in and steals a large proportion of the screen. This is a necessary evil as many folk will want to do their spreadsheeting on the go and not be bothered to use a real keyboard. Unfortunately this only compounds the zoom issue mentioned above.

Excel compatibility

Unless you work alone or with a team that has settled on using Google Apps then trying to open all but the most basic of Excel files may stop you in your tracks. To open Excel files you need Excel running on a computer. That may not be strictly true for Windows 8 RT, but I’ve not tried opening the more complex spreadsheets on that operating system so will have to reserve judgment. Try opening an Excel file within Numbers on the iPad to see all of the macros, internal linking and all other wizz bang things people do in Excel stripped from the file so that you are left with the shell of a worksheet.

Don’t do it

I’ve resorted to only either using basic spreadsheets on a tablet (created and updated in Google Drive) or have a remote control session to my computer so I can navigate around a properly (if slowly) rendered version of the file I wish to look at.

The future

Maybe if Office comes out for the iPad then things might improve. Excel is still the king of the spreadsheet software and one of the many reasons people continue to buy Office for Macs… Once Office hits iOS it would be interesting to see Microsoft do an Android version but that may not happen anytime soon.

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