Microsoft Debuts Touch-Controlled Office Apps for Android Phones
Long gone are the days when Microsoft's Office applications were available only on PCs running its operating system. Redmond continued its cross-platform evolution on Tuesday with the debut of a preview version of Office for Android phones.
The new Office for Android apps include Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Because the apps are previews, Microsoft will also continue to make its Office Mobile App for Android phones available in the Google Play Store.
Releasing the apps in preview form allows Microsoft to collect user feedback so it can tweak the apps for better usability before their general release, the company said in a post on its Office Blogs. Microsoft took the same approach in January when it released a preview version of Office for Android tablets.
Multiple Cloud Options Available
The new Office for Android preview apps are "modern, optimized for touch and designed for work on the go," said Jared Spataro, General Manager for the Office 365 marketing team, in the blog post. The apps combine touch-friendly, Android usability with the familiar look and feel of the Office apps, Spataro noted. "Documents open and render beautifully, with all formatting and content in the right place."
The new Office preview apps also make files accessible via a number of cloud-based options, including OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive and Box, Spataro said. In addition, users can track any changes, comments or markups made to documents, making it easier to manage version control while sharing files with others from mobile devices.
More App News 'Later in the Year'
Android users who want to try out the new Office preview apps have to join the Office for Android community on Google Plus. They also have to choose the "become a tester" option on the community, and then select the links for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. After that, users might have to wait up to four hours or so for Google Play to replicate tester permissions and enable downloads of the preview apps. Once the process is completed, users can download and install the apps via the Google Play Store.
Spataro noted that Microsoft will "disclose more about our plans for this app later in the year when we announce general availability of the new Office for Android phone apps."
Over the past year or so, Microsoft has made a big push to enable the use of its applications across a wide range of devices and platforms. In addition to rolling out a number of its apps to Android users, it has also ramped up support for iOS.
That transformation is expected to pick up even more speed after Microsoft releases its new Windows 10 OS later this year. Designed as a universal operating system, Windows 10 will feature the same code, look and feel for apps across any Windows device, from phones to tablets to PCs.