Coda turns desktop documents into apps for your phone

There’s a neat little app recently been released that could improve your productivity and turn a document into an app -- but only if you have an iPhone or iPad.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor on

Documents and spreadsheets have not significantly changed since their inception in the 1980s, yet they are used today well beyond what they were originally designed to do. 

Now, with the plethora of applications made for business use, the Coda app is reimagining what a document should be and should do.

With this in mind, Seattle, Wash.-based Coda has launched an app that intends to simplify the creation of apps across devices.

The app does not simply resize the desktop view of a document. Instead creating a customized app and layout based on that data.

The Coda app was launched in February for iOS users and the Android version of the app has now been released.

Makers start with a blank canvas and use familiar tools -- tables that act like databases, or buttons that take action -- to create the app without any code.

Coda connects to apps such as Slack and email, and enables you to automate tasks.


Document sections become tabs in the app, sections become tabs. If you look at the apps on your phone you will find structured data, but rarely shown as a table.

Tables on mobile are too tiny and hard to manipulate. The structured data is often presented as responsive cards you can scroll up and down.

Button columns provide swipe gestures for mobile. The action of pushing a button is a familiar pattern and an efficient way to effect change on a row. And swiping a button is the new button push.

Document notifications become push notifications if required. You can decide to whom you want to send notifications. Users will get a push notification through the Coda app. Or, if they do not have the app, they will see it in their email inbox.

The company is backed by Greylock, General Catalyst, and other top investment firms with over $60 million in funding.

It is a neat idea with a lot of potential -- but there are drawback, like if you rely on Android tablets and phones, and you do not use the entire suite of Google tools.

The app would not install on my primary Android phone, as I have DuckDuckGo configured as my default browser. I had to uninstall DuckDuckGo and use the Chrome browser exclusively to install the product.

Apparently, the login issues had been fixed, according to the notice on the Play Store, but I had problems. The app hung on during logging in on my phone and two other Android Oreo phones, so I could not actually test this app properly on a mobile phone.

On an Android tablet, although the app will install, I could not log on. Attempts on four devices was enough for me. I gave up.  Obviously, there is some work to do on the Android version of the app -- or perhaps the app was not suited to any of the devices I have here at the moment.  

But if you have an iOS platform and want to easily create your own app, then Coda is certainly worth a look.

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