Quip hits Android: Creator and ex-Facebook CTO Bret Taylor talks about the future of word processing

If you’ve not heard of Quip yet, it’s a word processing app that uses cloud smarts for group editing of documents. It's been on iOs for months and now it’s arrived on Android.

What’s exciting is that Quip will now work across platforms allowing iPhone and Android owners to work on a collaborative document without boundaries. You can add comments, send photos, and each edit the work in question. It just works.

We got a chance to ask Quip’s creator, ex-Facebook CTO and co-creator of Google Maps, Bret Taylor a few questions. Here’s the back and forth.

As co-creator of Google Maps, what do you think of Here Maps right now?

With a superior street mapping technology that recognises street signs, and offline maps, it seems to be on the road to a better mapping offering.

It's been over five years since I was heavily involved and up to date on the mapping space, so I haven't had a chance to try most of the new products in the space. It is always exciting to see companies bringing new technology and ideas to mapping.

Quip - can the Android version do anything better than the iOS app? And is Windows Phone getting an app too?

Quip for Android has been one of our most requested products since launch, a testament to the reach of the operating system. Android accounts for 81 per cent of the smartphones shipped in the world, and together with our products for iPhone and iPad, Quip is now available to 76 per cent of phones and tablets in the world.

Quip for Android is the best writing experience available for Android devices. It's not simply a port of the app — it takes advantage of a number of features unique to Android including automatic Google account integration, intelligent notification stacking, custom work to handle third party keyboards, etc.

In terms of an app for Windows Phone, we hope to get to it at some point in the future.

Sharing docs within social tools like Skype, Facebook or WhatApp would be great if it was seamless. Do you plan to solve this issue within apps? Is the Quip Android app just the first step?

Quip for Android is definitely just our first step in serving the Android community. Making it easy to share documents with people you're connected to is a high priority for us — even in Quip for Android 1.0 we added a feature so that you can easily share a link to a Quip document over SMS, email or on Facebook or WhatsApp.

What do you see as Quip’s most major challenge and how do you hope to overcome it?

Like with most start-ups, our main challenge is in gaining awareness of the product. However, we only launched a little over three months ago, and we've been really excited by the great response we've seen so far. People love Quip's unique collaboration features, particularly on the iPad and iPhone, creating hundreds of thousands of mobile documents and millions of messages. Fifty per cent of the people who use Quip have used it on an iPad, and 40 per cent use it on multiple devices.

We've been inspired by the diversity of teams who have adopted the product, spanning business, education, and journalism. We've blogged about a few recently:

Trinity Valley School uses Quip to coordinate among faculty, and recently deployed the product for a collaborative creative writing assignment on students' iPads.
Colorado Hazard Control, a hazardous material abatement company, uses Quip to communicate on a daily basis and as a central hub for company documents.
SS/FW, a fashion start-up, uses Quip to manage their distributed team across continents.
Pop-Up Magazine adopted Quip and used it to plan their last issue.
Our goal is to continue to incorporate feedback and improve Quip for consumers and enterprises alike.

Any plans for augmented reality? Editing a doc with my pen and Google Glass, while others look at a copy of that physical document and see the virtual amendments through their Glass, for example?

We're very interested in alternate methods of input to smartphones and tablets, and will be watching closely to see how this space develops. We already support some of the most popular alternate input methods such as voice-to-text and Bluetooth keyboards.

Quip feels very consumer focused. Any plans to aim it at businesses?

We are a consumer application with an enterprise business model, so ensuring that companies have a very positive experience using Quip will be core to our business model. When we started this company, our goal was to create products for work that you actually enjoy using every day. We think it's a shame that the apps we use at work are old, poorly designed, and bear the legacy of thirty years of feature creep and clutter. We think your time at work should be composed of the same delightful, beautiful experiences you've come to expect from modern mobile apps.

We've certainly been delighted at the responses we've seen, from couples using Quip to manage joint grocery lists to companies using it to reduce the amount of email they send.

What do you hope Quip will grow to in the future?

Our goal with Quip is to be the essential productivity suite for the mobile era. We want to be as important to the era of smartphones and tablets as Microsoft Office was for the era of PCs.

Are there other productivity uses for Quip planned beyond word processing?

We are starting with the word processor, but our mission is to eventually build the productivity suite for the mobile era. We've built some of the building blocks into the earliest versions of Quip. For example, you can use @ to insert a table into a Quip document and you and your team members can all enter data at the same time. While we have no plans to build the full functionality of Excel, we have been excited by how much people like and use tables, and we're excited to add features like basic formulas to them next year.

Have social networks and cloud working groups changed how we perceive technology?

Social networks have changed the way we communicate, which has changed people's expectations about how software should work — especially for collaboration products. Quip borrows some of the best communication design features from social networks, including showing a News Feed of edits and messages for every document and integrating presence across the product so you can always see who is online and what they are doing.

Quip is out now for iOS and Android phones and tablets.