Numbers for iPad is part of the iWork Office Suite for iPad, which aims to turn this tablet computer into a productivity tool for mobile professionals.
Numbers is a fully featured spreadsheet application with everything from charts and tables to a lengthy list of functions and formulas. It is currently available in the Apple app store for $9.99.
If you’ve already used the iPad Pages word-processing app, then this should look familiar to you. When you run the iPad Numbers app, you will start in the My Spreadsheets view. Since there is no folder/directory system, you swipe left and right to see all of the available documents.
Underneath each document you will see three icons; the first provides sharing options, the second allows you to create a new spreadsheet or a duplicate of the one currently selected, and the trash can obviously deletes the file.
Adding documents to Numbers can be accomplished in two ways. The simplest method is to receive an email with an attached spreadsheet; when you view the file you can tap the button in the top left corner of the screen to open it with Numbers or any other compatible application.
You can also use File Sharing in iTunes by connecting your iPad, switching to the Apps tab, and then scrolling down to the bottom of the screen. There you can select the files you want to be placed on your iPad. Please note that these files will not show up in Numbers until you select the file folder in top right corner of the My Spreadsheets view and choose the files that you want to import.
If you want to continue working with the file on a desktop computer or send it to a colleague, you can do so with a couple of taps. You can send the document via email, share via iWork.com, or export to your computer. If you choose to email or export, please note that your only two options are Numbers or PDF; you cannot email or export a file in Microsoft Excel format.
Features and Performance
As with Pages, the main iPad Numbers workspace is very minimalistic, and if you’re already using Pages you will see that the interface has many of the same design elements.
Info has four different sections. Table allows you to pick a particular layout and shading scheme for the selected cells, and the text options at the bottom of the menu allow you to choose the font and text size. Headers is where you’ll choose whether your list has a header row or column, or a footer row, and you can choose how many rows or columns you need to freeze. The Cells tab is what you’ll use for all of your text formatting needs, from bold and italic fonts, text and fill colors, to alignments and borders. The Format tab is where you will specify what sort of data is in each cell, be it number, currency, percentage, date & time, duration, a checkbox, or plain text.
The Insert button offers options that are almost identical to Pages; you can add photos, tables, charts, and shapes to your Numbers spreadsheets in order to make them more visually appealing and to make analyzing particular sets of data easier.
The Tools menu is where you access the find-and-replace feature, go to the Apple web site in Safari for help, and turn on and off the edge guides and the spell check feature.
Everything else within the app is context-sensitive, so you will be doing a lot of single and double tapping in order to access things like copy and paste, bringing up the data entry sub menu. etc. There are four different data entry keyboards: number/currency/percentage, date and time, text, and formulas and functions. Each of them features large, easy to press keys, and everything is laid out very clearly and logically so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding what you need once you bring up the right keyboard.
Performance is quite good; I didn’t experience any significant delays or slowdowns while using the app. In fact, it took longer to import the various documents I tested than it did to recalculate data or update charts and graphs. If speed is your concern, you won’t have anything to worry about with this app.