Microsoft Mobile Office for iOS: First impressions
Microsoft launched its Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers yesterday and has received a lot of media attention both because it was released without any prior announcement and secondly such an app was on the top of the wish list of many iOS users.
The app is free! Wait, there is a catch – it can only be used if you have an Office 365 subscription. The feature list is limited for now and considering that it requires a subscription there isn’t much on the plate that Microsoft has offered.
The app focuses on Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents you would have worked on recently – even those on your computer letting you start again from where you had left off last time. This is something that would appeal to many as they wouldn’t need to browse their online storage to find the last document they had been working on. The icon set on the left indicates the type of document you are looking at.
At the bottom of the screen you will find buttons that allow you to connect to either your SkyDrive or Sharepoint; create a new document; and settings section.
Tools come up at the top of the screen when you open any document. Swiping through when a Word file is open allows you to read through the document and using the buttons on the top would bring up text-formatting options allowing you to highlight, change font size, and apply other format options. All you need to do to edit a Word document is tap and start typing. Editing in Word is as easy as tapping on the screen and typing. The app doesn’t offer any palette to choose the colours from. All you have is three colour options – very primitive don’t you think? Once you are done with the edit, all you have to do is save to SkyDrive and you will have your document available to you through other devices for futher updates and edits.
The tools option while in an Excel document allows you to edit your data and the tabs on the bottom allows you to switch to other spreadsheets and charts associated with a project. You can enter formulas in a cell and if you edit the cell, the values would automatically update – same as it would happen in a desktop version of Excel. To create charts all you have to do is selected data by highlighting fields, open the editing tools, and tap on Create Chart. Microsoft has provided six different chart options for you to choose from and a chart is automatically created in a new tab.
When it comes to PowerPoint the mobile app is limited as you cannot create a new presentation. You can still view and edit the presentation – like move the slides around, edit speaker notes, etc. The get a feel of the presentation you can switch to landscape mode. Complex operations like adding transition, creation of new slides, etc are not available but, the app would come in handy if you are on the move and need to practice for a presentation which is due in a few hours.
Because of the dependence on Office 365 subscription your documents which are available on the cloud through SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro or SharePoint will all be accessible to you from anywhere. Recent documents – as we mentioned earlier – which you worked on last on any other device would be right there in the Recent Document panel. In case you have Office documents attached with an email, you can even edit those.
Despite the limited set of features, I must say that the documents do look great – in their own way. As the app has been optimized for phone, all the documents – be it a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file – look stunning even in small screen. With presentation view while viewing a PowerPoint slide, you will be able to browse through the slides faster.
Even though there is only one limitation as of now – a need for Office 365 subscription, it is a huge one. Considering that the app isn’t too extensive when it comes to editing features, I am of the opinion that the app should have been free for all users. I believe it would have been great if that app would have been a supportive app and had been tied with the Web apps and a more feature-rich app should have been built and tied to the Office 365 subscription.
Do try it for a while as you can sign-up for a free trial of Office 365 at Office.com. If you don’t subscribe to Office 365, the app will work up until the trial period is over.
Microsoft shouldn’t just limit itself to the current feature set and it should come out with different versions targeting different users. The app in its current stage is useful for Office 365 subscribers who are always on the go and need something that would allow them to make small edits while on the move.
All in all, Microsoft took a great step by dishing out a mobile Office app for iOS and I believe this is just the beginning.