Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

LibreOffice is probably the best free and open-source office suite for computers, but unlike the proprietary competition from Microsoft and Apple, it hasn’t ever had strong mobile apps. That’s now slowly changing, as LibreOffice Viewer is back on the Google Play Store for Android devices.

LibreOffice has offered a viewer application for Android devices since 2015, allowing people to open ODF format documents on Android phones and tablets and make minor edits, using the same technology stack as desktop LibreOffice. The app was buggy for many people, though, and “due to lack of maintenance” it was pulled from the Google Play Store in 2020.

The Document Foundation, the group that develops and maintains LibreOffice, announced today that LibreOffice Viewer has returned to the Google Play Store. The blog post says since the app was pulled, “more than two hundred changes have been made to improve the app, increase its stability and usability, support current Android versions and better integrate with the system.”

LibreOffice Viewer app on an Android tablet
The Document Foundation

LibreOffice Viewer has already been updated a few times this year on F-Droid, the open-source Android app store, but its return to the Play Store means it’s easier for most people to download and try out. LibreOffice Viewer is still “built on the same LibreOffice technology as the LibreOffice desktop for Windows, MacOS and Linux,” so it should render documents in the same way as the desktop applications.

LibreOffice Viewer is primarily intended to open files in Open Document Format, including ODT, ODS, ODP, and ODG documents. However, it can also open modern Microsoft Office files (DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX), as well as Microsoft Office 97-2003 files (DOC, SLS, and PPT). There are a few other applications that can open Office files on Android, including Microsoft 365, Google Drive, and WPS Office, but LibreOffice Viewer is fully open-source and potentially more private.

Unfortunately, LibreOffice Viewer is still primarily for viewing documents—it doesn’t have the full edit capabilities of the Microsoft 365 or Google Drive applications. There is an experimental setting for editing files, which is enough to fix a typo or change some text formatting, but nothing beyond that.

You can download LibreOffice Viewer from the Google Play Store, or you can get it from F-Droid. There’s still no word on an iPhone or iPad version.

Source: The Document Foundation

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By John P.

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