Microsoft Unveils Office Apps for Apple, Android Devices
Redmond on Thursday took one more step toward bringing its productivity software suite to the masses. Microsoft rolled out new Office apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad, as well as a preview of Office apps that work on Android-powered mobile devices. With the new apps, customers can actually create and edit Office documents without Office 365 subscriptions.
The move comes after Microsoft announced Office for iPad in March. That app has been downloaded over 40 million times since then, encouraging Microsoft to release native apps for OneNote, Lync, Yammer, OneDrive for Business and OWA (Outlook Web Access) for iOS and Android.
“Today we’re taking the next major step to bring Office to everyone, on every device . . .” said John Case, Corporate Vice President for Office at Microsoft. “We’re also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone and updates for the iPad apps . . . Our vision of Office everywhere wouldn’t be complete without Windows, so I’m pleased to confirm that new, touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works and we’ll have more to share soon.”
What Do the Apps Do?
What can you really do with these apps? Microsoft is promising the ability to tap into the same experience to which people with Office for iPad are accustomed. Customers can download the new apps today.
A free version of the app lets you read Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. You can also do simple editing. Chase promised those docs would look just as good on the iPad as they do on a Mac or PC. Of course, Microsoft would prefer that you buy an Office 365 subscription and, in fact, you can’t get the full Office experience without it.
“When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. And, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business,” Chase said. He noted that the Office 365 subscription lets you install the Office for iPad app on up to five tablets, but also five copies across Office for your PCs and Macs.
Do You Need Office 365?
Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, has been closely following Office’s distribution on mobile platforms beyond Windows. He told us the Office version for iOS across the board now is the same code base. It’s a universal app for iPhone and iPad. Microsoft got rid of Office Mobile for the iPhone and replaced it with the standalone for iOS apps.
“Microsoft is releasing a preview of the Android app now because Android and tablets are not exactly a homogenous ecosystem,” Miller said. “Releasing it as a preview gives Microsoft a chance to get some feedback.”
With the new Office apps, Miller said consumers have both view access and core editing functionality. For the majority of consumers creating simple documents, it’s probably going to be sufficient -- for businesses it’s not.
“Consumers who want to exchange documents and track changes will need to attach an Office 365 subscription to free up those features,” Miller said. “Microsoft is trying to encourage premium users to consider the Office 365 subscription. In the end, unlimited storage of OneDrive will be the pull that gets consumers to go towards Office365.”