Customer experience: Quip Word Processor

As mobile devices, especially tablets become more common, many former desktop-only based technologies are making the move to mobile -- including the word processor. This word processor list has grown with today’s release of Quip, the self-proclaimed “modern word processor.”

Keeping Up With the Times

The word processor has been around for over forty years, and despite some redesigns and mobile apps such as those from ThinkOffice and Microsoft Word, hasn’t evolved as quickly as user's work styles have. Quip’s creators, Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, want to revolutionize the software by creating a word processer for the mobile worker focused on four ideals: collaboration, mobility, simplicity and interactivity. 

The first feature of the Quip app is its desktop or home screen. In this section users will be able to see any document or folder they have shared or has been shared with them, as well any recent updates that have been made to their files. Any documents that are unread are marked with a blue dot.

Upon opening a Quip document, comments made by collaborators during editing will appear on the left side of the screen, with changes noted and a record of who viewed the changes. When a user edits the document the "diffs" or changes made will be added to the message thread so that other collaborators are up to date on the file’s progress.

Users can also tag colleagues in their comments and when a change is made anyone who is listed as a collaborator will receive a push notification so that feedback is more instantaneous. Other features include the ability to turn a bulleted list into a checklist and meeting notes into a task list.

The features these products have accrued over thirty years have made it difficult for most of us to switch to new products, but they have also made it almost impossible for the products to truly change,” they wrote Taylor and Gibbs. “When we decided to build Quip, it was based on the premise that the shift to tablets and phones is so fundamental and so all-encompassing that it dwarfs the sum of all of these features in importance.”

Out With the Old, In with the New … Maybe?

While Quip may seem like a modernized product, potential users should take a step back and look at the entire package before converting over from Microsoft Word or a web-based processor like Google Drive or the recently updated (and soon to be renamed) SkyDrive. Harry McCracken noted that there are many essential features that were left out of this launch, such as a Microsoft Word compatibility, being able to move a file out of the Quip platform in any format besides a PDF or the ability to spell check a document.

When it comes to typical word-processing features, Quip is minimalist -- which is a polite way of saying there’s a lot of stuff missing,” he wrote. "You can embed images and tables, and do the most basic of formatting by making any bit of text either a headline (in one of three sizes) or plain old paragraph text. And that’s it.”

Others have noted that Quip, despite its misgivings, are simply emphasizing how important mobile is becoming.

Quip's product is the responsive design movement's answer to document creation. What others have done for website design, Taylor and Gibbs hope to do for all manner of shared online documents,” wrote Owen Thomas.

Quip is currently available as a free download for iOS devices and desktops. Android users can download preview or beta version, but a full Android release is expected in the coming months.