Unified Communications Featured Article

Quip Brings Word Processing to the Mobile Era

July 31, 2013

Word processing has made it to the mobile era with a new product called Quip. It lets users write and edit documents on mobile phones, tablets or even on the old-fashioned desktop computer.

The device produces what the company describes as “beautiful documents.”

It comes as fewer PCs are in use as more users opt for tablets or smartphones – for e-mail, browsing, calling and text messaging.

Quip lets users edit online or offline, and it adjusts to the size of screen being used, automatically. That means users don’t need to use a zoom feature. It also can be used for collaborative editing.

It is the idea of Facebook’s former CTO Bret Taylor, who also worked on Google Maps. He is getting help from Kevin Gibbs, who used to work for Google, too.

Quip is free for individuals. Businesses need to subscribe for $12 a month. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. It can be used for Apple’s mobile devices or laptops.

So far, Quip has raised some $15 million from venture capitalists. Peter Fenton from Benchmark Capital led the Series A funding round. Given the flurry of attention the start-up got this week, more investors could be on the horizon.

So far, the company has 12 employees working out of San Francisco.

"When we started this company, our goal was to create products for work that you actually enjoy using every day," Taylor and Gibbs said in a recent blog post. "We think it's a shame that the apps we use at work are old, poorly designed, and bear the legacy of thirty years of feature creep and clutter. We think your time at work should be composed of the same delightful, beautiful experiences you've come to expect from modern mobile apps."

One of its key features is that Quip is able to let users collaborate on a document. “Quip combines documents and messages into a single chat-like ‘thread’ of updates,” the blog post said. “You can all edit the same document — no matter what device you're on — and don't have to bounce back and forth to e-mail to talk about it.”

Also, Quip documents are interactive. For instance, bulleted lists can be made into a checklist, or, meeting notes can become a shared task list, the blog post said. Several users can type data into a table of sales figures, too.

In addition, Quip has “diffs,” so when a document is edited a diff is added to the thread, so everyone knows a change has been made.

An Android app for Quip is being developed, as well. A Quip Android Preview Release is available from the Google Play Store.

Overall, Quip meets the needs of today’s users. “These days, what is important is collaboration, small screens, fast turnarounds, social media and, most of all, mobility,” according to a recent report from The New York Times.

There are other solutions being seen in the marketplace, as well. The Times reports how Box recently acquired Crocdoc, which lets users view Microsoft Word documents via different devices on different sized screens. Also, Evernote lets users write, edit and share notes, The Times said.

“Writing and editing has always been somewhat collaborative, but things are moving much faster now,” Matthias Crawford, a researcher at Stanford University, told The Times. “We are moving from persuasion based on rhetoric to persuasion based on tables and videos inserted into narrative text.”

“The elephant in the room is how Quip works with Microsoft Word. Right now there’s no special way to import docs from Word or export them to the old girl. Quip only spits out PDFs. However, Taylor says his team worked hard on flawless copy and paste. Quip will preserve formatting when you copy text to or from Word,” TechCrunch said in its review.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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