Spreadsheets on iPad

One of the goals of moving to an iPad as my primary computer is trying, as much as I can, to use native Apple tools. If, after having paid a premium for the hardware, I fail to use the software tools that come with it I have wasted the premium to some extent.

I have been a user and occasionally a power user of Excel since version 4 on Windows 3.1 and 3.11 and now use Excel 365 at work and home. Working with Numbers with its entirely different paradigm, was somewhat of a shock to the system. Just the idea that I couldn’t open an actual blank spreadsheet (with no formatting at all) that occupied the entire sheet seemed strange.

I managed to do some actual work in Numbers for iOS and found it to be feature wise mostly comparable with Excel. Differences in the design continued to baffle me.

A small example is sorting some numbers in a column. In Excel, one selects the numbers to be sorted, which need not be an entire column, then click on the sort button. The column is sorted in ascending or descending order numerically or alphabetically.

It appears (because I can’t find any info on how this works) that if multiple columns are selected the columns are sorted based on the first column. If a single column is selected all adjacent columns are sorted on that column.
I couldn’t find any help topics (using the light bulb icon) to tell me how the feature works. But I did like the ability to use the light bulb to find things like “freezing a top row”.

In Numbers sorting involves selecting an entire column. I suppose this is because the Numbers design presumes you have multiple tables on a single page that are not connected to each other while in Excel all columns and rows in a single sheet are connected.
After selecting a column then column actions are enabled. Tap on column actions and you can run a sort.

Alternatively, click on the circle with 3 lines in it (I’m sure the control has a name, but I couldn’t find it) and a menu to create custom sorts and categorize the table or selected rows or create a filter. This seems superior in functionality to the Excel feature although harder to discover.

This is only an example and, while I hardly did a feature by feature comparison, in those that I did compare some were marginally better in Excel and some in Numbers. Unless some function working in a particular way is very meaningful to a user there is very little to choose between the two.

Both of the iOS applications represent a subset of the full on Mac or Windows applications. Numbers does not do pivot tables. Categories does some things like pivot tables but is not a real substitute. Pivot tables in Excel for iOS is limited in scope. A pivot table cannot be created on iOS and only a few functions like filtering or sorting are permitted.

Since this is for home use and I will have a Mac as well, complex spreadsheet use is not in the offing, but a substantial number of simple spread sheets must be maintained/used for things like personal income taxes, property tax protests and other financial chores.

Either product would be work for me if my requirements were for me only and existed in a vacuum. But they don’t. I need to review and edit spreadsheets from work which are exclusively in Excel plus I often share spreadsheets with others. In each case I can’t be opening Excel sheets in Numbers, reviewing and editing them and then exporting them back to Excel.

Additionally, as a contextual matter, there is my wife, the CPA, who would require an extremely good reason why she should have to learn another way to work with spread sheets. She’d far rather spend $100/year for Office 365 than ever consider as radical change as using Numbers instead of Excel. Plus having Office 365 gives us a second cloud storage option, perhaps for deep backup, in case problems arise with iCloud (which I cannot imagine).

So, despite my best intentions, I can’t ditch Office for the iWork suite.

So if I can’t get rid of Office 365, and if Apple Note is not available as a Windows application, and if iCloud Drive will not give me enough storage space on Windows why not use One Drive to sync my work files with my Apple devices. And (here’s the point of my post), why not use One Note as the note taking application for work.

This gives me several things I like. First, using One Drive and One Note