Microsoft Releases Office Mobile App for iPhone

 In Mobile Industry

It took a long time, but Microsoft Office has finally come to the iPhone. Now, instead of making do with alternatives such as Google Drive or QuickOffice, Office 365 subscribers can install Office Mobile on up to five iOS devices and start editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents natively.

Microsoft has done a good job of creating “mini” versions of those three apps for the iPhone’s small screen, although they’re lean on features. That’s not unexpected, since Microsoft isn’t quite re-inventing the wheel here: Office Mobile already exists on Windows Phone, and Microsoft carries over much of those small-screen sensibilities — minimal chrome and a touch-first interface — to the world’s most popular mobile device.

Still, there are a few frustrations as well. Some formatting functions are curiously absent. Copying and pasting isn’t as straightforward as it should be. And you can’t edit some types of documents. Microsoft has a sizable checklist for future updates.

When you first launch the app, you’re prompted to log in with your Office ID. That’s really the extent of the setup — there’s a brief (and skippable) introduction to the iPhone app, but you can start using it pretty much as soon as you’re logged in.

The overall look and feel of the app is clean and minimalist. As you’d probably expect, Microsoft didn’t put in any excessive ornamentation or “skeuomorphic” effects — this design is very functional. Even Google Drive, with its single embossed strip of editing functions, is decorative by comparison.

The bottom navigation has four options: Recent, Open, New and Settings. At launch, the app takes you to the Recent screen, showing documents you’ve worked on, well, recently. New lets you create new Word and Excel (but not PowerPoint) documents, showing you a few template options. Underneath that is This Week, and below that are a few sample documents. Open takes you to your SkyDrive.

One of the key functions of the app is SkyDrive integration. You can open any document you have there, and all documents are saved there. Office Mobile can save documents “temporarily” to the phone if you’re offline, but normally everything goes to SkyDrive (all Microsoft accounts get 7GB of storage free).

Cloud storage is great, although it doesn’t necessarily allow for the same real-time document collaboration that Google Drive enables — at least not on iPhone. Documents are stored locally until you save, and only then does the copy in the cloud get updated.

Original article from mashable.com, written by Pete Pachal.

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