LibreOffice is now available for Android, sort of
LibreOffice is a popular open source Office suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. It is one of the top choices when it comes to replacing Microsoft Office with a free alternative.
The Office suite was at one time also available for Google Android devices, but its Store presence was removed in 2020 due to a lack of maintenance. This meant that LibreOffice users had no option to use the app on their Android devices.
Work on the Android version continued, however. LibreOffice notes on its blog that "more than two hundred changes have been made to improve the app, increase its stability and usability" and improve support for new Android versions.
The team uploaded new versions of the app to F-Droid, a free and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Play. Since the beginning of 2023, users could install the LibreOffice app from F-Droid. Now, it is also available on Google Play.
The app, called LibreOffice Viewer, focuses on reading and accessibility, and not on editing: "LibreOffice Viewer uses the same engine as LibreOffice for Windows, Mac and Linux. This combined with a new front-end based on Firefox for Android, reads documents similarly to LibreOffice desktop".
Since it uses the same engine as the desktop version, it supports the major LibreOffice and Microsoft Office document formats.
While editing is limited, LibreOffice Viewer does include "a first preview of the editing functionality". The developers warn that it is "considered an experimental feature" and that it is "not stable for mission critical tasks" at this point.
Still, inclusion confirms that the team is working on adding editing capabilities to LibreOffice Viewer and that users will be able to use the functionality eventually without the warning.
Interested users may install LibreOffice Viewer from F-Droid or Google Play. The release on Google Play makes it available to a wider audience. The app has a low rating of 2.3 on Google Play, but this comes mostly from reviews of the previous version of the app.
Still, a test of the newly released resulted in mixed impressions. LibreOffice managed to show local documents that it supports fine, but it failed to display any cloud-based document from linked cloud accounts, e.g., Google Drive or OneDrive.
Users may need to download these using the official tools first before they load them in LibreOffice Viewer.
LibreOffice Viewer brings LibreOffice back to Android, which is a good thing. The app has some rough edges, but the project team seems dedicated to sort these out and introduce editing functionality as well. Will take some while though before you can expect a full LibreOffice to make its appearance on Android.
Up until then, Android and iOS users may check out Collabora Office, which is based on LibreOffice.
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