Friday 26 June 2015

Full Microsoft Office apps finally available on Android phones

New Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps have been released for Android phones.

For a long time Microsoft has left Android phones in the mobile productivity ghetto. While iPhone and Windows Phone users and those with all kinds of tablets have enjoyed full Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Android phone fans have made do with Google Docs or — if they were Office 365 subscribers — the fairly spartan Office Mobile.
On Thursday the company finally put an end to this disparity with the launch of a standalone trio of phone-compatible apps on the Google Play store. They're free, although anyone with a low-end or old device could still be out of luck (you'll need at least 1GB of RAM and Android 4.4 KitKat).
The ability to open, edit and save your files is available to everyone, but the most impressive thing about the new apps – their ability to pack in all the functionality of their desktop cousins – is available only to Office 365 subscribers ($89 a year for full Office on a Mac or PC, one phone and one tablet). Regardless, the experience has been smartly redesigned to make sense on screens smaller than the standard tablet or monitor.
The Word app, for example, defaults to the familiar page layout view, zooming in and out automatically as you make edits. A toggle at the top lets you switch to a screen-filling mobile format (which was basically the only mode in the old Office Mobile app) for easy readability.
For subscribers, another button brings up a touch-friendly tool tray that lets you tweak all the format, layout, picture and table settings you expect, from comments and spelling checks to paragraph styles and footnotes, all without taking you away from the document.
The other two apps work similarly, although the layout is tweaked to suit the specific purposes of each. For example the Powerpoint app is designed to let you make and edit presentations, but also makes it easy to send one you prepared earlier wirelessly to a monitor while using your phone to keep track of notes, flick through slides and highlight important elements on the fly. Again, if you want to make a presentation with all the same fancy transitions you get at home, you'll have to pay up. 
The whole suite of course is designed to work with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service, but you can also grab and edit files from Dropbox or the Google Drive account associated with your phone.
Even without all the bells and whistles reserved for paying customers, this is kind of a killer for Google's own simpler Docs, Slides and Sheets apps, especially considering Microsoft's deals to have Office pre-installed on future Sony, Samsung and LG devices.

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