Android to get better Open Document support with LibreOffice

August 13, 2014
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LibreOffice

The Document Foundation has announced plans to port its LibreOffice suite to mobile devices. This includes Android, which is likely to be the first mobile platform to get LibreOffice support due to ease of development. According to the Document Foundation, about 90 percent of the current LibreOffice codebase already compiles for Android. However, there will be some work needed to improve the user interface to better conform with mobile user experience standards. Developers are also planning to repurpose the codebase for use on other mobile platforms, instead of having to re-write the entire software suite from scratch.

The biggest benefit from porting LibreOffice to Android would be for better OpenDocument support, which is somewhat lacking in mobile platforms. While certain apps like WPS Office and Office Suite Pro do provide some support for ODF, this is somewhat limited, in terms of either UI or availability on these apps’ free versions. Meanwhile, Google Docs supports ODF import and export, but no native support is currently available.

There is no announced time frame for the Android port, and at this time the application file size is one of the bigger concerns that developers are trying to address. Google imposes a 50 megabyte limit on the actual APK size, although developers can cut down their apps into a smaller package size, and then having the device download expansions or add-ons once installed.

Aside from having LibreOffice run on Android, a port might mean future support for other mobile and thin-client platforms like the Chromebook.

Another concern here is whether demand for an app that provides native ODx support for mobile devices is great enough to warrant interest from developers. With mobile platforms focusing on their own offerings (Microsoft Office Mobile and Google Docs, for example), document work is increasingly being done on the cloud. For those who prefer to create, read and edit documents on their mobile device, however, this might be good news.

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