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Microsoft Releases Preview of Office Apps for Android Phones

The preview versions of Office apps for Android phones are now available for testers, Microsoft announced on Tuesday.

Users must sign up with the Microsoft Office for Android community at this page to access the preview. These apps, including Excel, PowerPoint and Word, are described as being "modern" and "optimized for touch." Main menu choices are located at the bottom of the app for easier selection by a person's thumbs while holding the device.

The OneNote Office app seems to have been available sooner. It's typically offered as a separate download.

Office for Android phone testers can "read, review and make edits on-the-go," according to Microsoft's announcement. Document creation seems to depend on access to cloud storage services. Microsoft's announcement indicated that testers can "create, open, edit and save files in the cloud from your Android phone." The Office for Android phone apps will work with various cloud-based storage services, including "OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive and Box."

Office for Android phone apps are different from currently existing Office Mobile apps, which may be more limited. For instance, Office Mobile apps just permit the viewing and editing of documents. Office Mobile apps for Android devices are still available for download at the Google Play store, though. Microsoft plans to talk about its plans for the Office Mobile apps versions later this year. It'll talk about them when it announces the general availability of the Office for Android phone apps, the company indicated.

In addition to Office for Android phone apps, Microsoft earlier released Office for Android tablet apps, which is out of preview and generally available. While both of these productivity suites are free to use by consumers, they require an Office 365 subscription for business use. An Office 365 subscription is also required to "unlock the full Office experience," Microsoft notes, at its Google Play store listings.

The "complete mobile apps experience" is available with the following Office 365 subscriptions: Business, Business Premium, ProPlus and Enterprise E3 and E4 plans. The "premium" mobile features that require an Office 365 subscription can be recognized via a dialog box when people try to use the apps. They'll get a pop-up box indicating such after clicking a feature on the Ribbon menu bar, according to Microsoft's FAQ description.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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