Microsoft Brings Office App to iOS, Android Smartphones

Microsoft's new Office App for iOS and Android phones is now generally available worldwide, the company announced this week.

The Office App for phones can be downloaded from the Apple store for iOS devices, or from the Google Play store for Android devices. The app is also "available for download on Android tablets with limited support," but it's not fully optimized yet, Microsoft's announcement explained.

The Office App combines Excel, PowerPoint and Word into a single downloadable application that's said to take up less space on a mobile device, and is optimized for smartphone activities. For instance, it uses the Office Lens photo-cropping application with a device's camera to convert photos of documents into editable text. The app also supports Quick Response (QR) barcode scanning, which might get used while shopping for products. It lets users sign PDF files. File transfers between devices are facilitated.

Newly added is integration of the Office App with storage services besides Microsoft's OneDrive service. It now supports saving files to "Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud." Microsoft apparently requires either a Microsoft Account or access to a storage service to save files to the cloud. Here's how the announcement described it:

The app is free to use, even without signing in. However, signing in with a Microsoft Account or connecting to a third-party storage service will enable you to access and store documents in the cloud.

Microsoft also newly added the ability to use templates when creating documents.

Feature additions coming to the Office App "in the next few months" include the use of dictation with Word, which works with Word's toolbar formatting, enabling the creation of things like bulleted lists via voice. Excel will get a future ability to display tables in a "card"-like format for easier editing. PowerPoint will be getting an outline capability for setting up slides.

Microsoft had previously introduced a preview of the Office App for Android and iOS devices during its November Ignite event. The app, now commercially released, is free to use by consumers, but certain capabilities (called "extra features") only are available with Office 365 subscriptions, as listed in this document.

That document contains a few nuances on the use of the Office App, based on the device type and size. For iOS users, it states that "a qualifying Office 365 subscription is required to create and edit documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad Pro." For Android users, it warns that "core editing is available for free on Android devices with screen sizes of 10.1 inches or less."

Microsoft also has an Office App for Windows 10 devices, which got rolled out last year.

Separate Office mobile applications are generally getting replaced by the new Office App, though, which is a progressive Web app. Microsoft had explained its direction in that respect back in December.

About the Author

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