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Microsoft releases Office Mobile for Android phones (tablets need not apply)

Mark Hachman | Aug. 1, 2013
Office 365 subscription required; tablets need not apply.

The software knows what documents you've recently accessed on your PC, and those are the first options presented when you choose to open a saved file.

A feature that Microsoft calls Rapid Resume also works like Amazon's Kindle, fast-forwarding" you to the portion of the document last viewed on your PC.

An "outline view" in Excel and Word allow you to quickly navigate through the document, and both apps allow annotations as well.

Within the three supported apps, Microsoft has made efforts to make editing a snap; in Word (shown at top of story), for example, tapping the pencil brings up the most common editing functions. Excel allows you to filter and sort data and create charts, using the local processor to calculate data.

Within PowerPoint, users can review slides and edit speaker notes, move and hide slides, and make text edits directly from the phone. Holding the phone in a portrait orientation allows edits to be made and includes a quick navigation bar; a landscape orientation serves as presentation mode.

In general, Office Mobile for Android and Office Mobile for iPhone should function quite similarly, with two exceptions: Android users can not sign up for Office 365 within the app itself, and Android users may need to fully qualify documents that are accessed via an on-premise SharePoint server.

Buy Windows Phone—or a Surface
To date, however, Microsoft has been keenly cognizant that productivity apps are the foundation of the Windows platform, and users who purchase a Windows Phone will have these benefits:

  • Office Mobile will be preinstalled and activated;
  • users will be able to save documents to the phone itself, as well as SkyDrive or email;
  • WP users will be able to filter and search for documents;
  • Users can also easily open documents with permissions attached to them.

Office 365 includes a license of up to five mobile devices—but Windows Phones don't count against that limit.

The biggest annoyance, however, is that—like the iPad—tablets aren't supported in either Office Mobile for the iPhone or the Android version, either. Those trying to hunt and peck at keys in the back of a jouncing taxi are likely to grit their teeth and muddle through; by doing so, however, Microsoft is tacitly encouraging customers in the direction of a Surface tablet—now at a new low, low, price—or even a full-fledged Windows 8 PC. ("Phablets" like the Samsung Galaxy Note II should still be supported, however.)

"If you have an iPad or Android tablet, we recommend using the Office Web Apps, which provide the best Office experience on a tablet," a spokeswoman for Microsoft said via email. "We have made lots of enhancements to Office Web Apps including a touch experience for tablet users."


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