Microsoft is launching an Office mobile app today for Android and iOS designed to make some of its signature software — Word, Excel and PowerPoint — must-have tools for all smartphone users.
Microsoft first unveiled the Office app at its Ignite conference in November. The app hit the 10,000-user limit for Apple’s TestFlight beta program just a few hours after the announcement, Microsoft said.
Having a unified app means users won’t have to jump between tools as they work on documents, Microsoft says. It also takes up less space and is designed to be more simple and efficient than the individual Office apps.
The Office mobile app takes advantage of smartphone cameras to do things such as convert images into editable Word and Excel documents, scan PDFs and capture and enhance whiteboards. It also aims to simplify common phone tasks, including taking quick notes, signing PDFs, scanning QR codes and moving files between devices.
Microsoft also teased a few new features it is working on that will make using the Office programs easier on smartphones:
- Users will be able to speak to the app and turn their words into text through Word, and then use basic toolbars to add formatting and punctuation.
- Card view in Excel will let users edit spreadsheets in a more mobile-friendly way so that they don’t have to scroll across columns that extend beyond the limits of the screen.
- A new PowerPoint feature will let users come up with an outline, and the program will fill in the blanks, turning ideas into a proper presentation with design and styling.
The new Office app is another example of Microsoft’s evolving mobile strategy. Following the failure of the Windows Phone operating system, Microsoft shifted its focus toward packaging its apps and services to work well across iOS and Android.
However, Microsoft’s thinking is due for another evolution as the tech giant is getting ready to put out a phone of its own. Later this year, Microsoft will release the foldable Surface Duo device, which will run on Android.