Microsoft has announced that it is working towards the launch of its ‘Office’ mobile app (currently only available in public preview) which integrates Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps into a single app.
The ‘Office’ Vision
Microsoft says that the mobile app, called simply ‘Office’, represents their vision for what a productivity solution would look like if first built for mobile devices.
The idea is that users have all their Office documents together in one place, can reduce the need to switch between many different apps, and can reduce the amount of space that they use on their phone compared to multiple installed apps.
“Simple, Integrated Experience”
The ‘Office’ app is intended to provide users with what Microsoft describes as a “simple, integrated experience”.
The app combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, access to recent and recommended documents stored in the cloud or on a user’s device, the ability to search for documents across a user’s organisation if using a work account, and easy access to Sticky Notes e.g. for reminders and writing down ideas.
What Can You Do?
Microsoft’s Tech Community web pages say that users of ‘Office’ will be able to create content “in uniquely mobile ways” such as snapping a picture of a document and turning it into an editable Word file with just the press of a button or transforming a picture of a table into an Excel spreadsheet so that users can quickly work on the data. Also, a new Actions pane in the app will enable users to complete tasks such as creating PDFs with their camera and signing PDFs just by using their finger or scanning QR codes to open files and links.
Public Preview and Only On Phones
The Office app is currently available in public preview for Android and iOS, can be downloaded and used for free, and doesn’t require a sign-in to use it. Those with work, school, or personal Microsoft Accounts can, however login and gain access to their files stored in the cloud via the app.
Microsoft has said that it will continue to support and invest in the existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps (‘Office’ isn’t replacing them), and that the new ‘Office’ app is currently only available for phones, although plans are afoot to extend this to tablets.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Back in February, Microsoft announced its new, free “Office” app for Windows 10 as an update to the former My Office app, and as a way for those who do have a 365 subscription and have Microsoft’s apps installed on their device to open Office from the Office app, and those who don’t have a subscription to be automatically directed to the online version. This latest announcement of the preview stage, available to all, soon-to-be-launched ‘Office’ mobile app is a progression of Microsoft’s move to publicise, raise awareness about, and get more people using its (free) versions of Office. This will also help Microsoft adapt and compete with rivals, such as Google, and appeal to business and other existing Microsoft Office users who are now used to being able to carry out most of their business on-the-go with mobile devices and apps. Some of the features, such as taking a picture of a document and turning that into an editable file are likely to add value for many business users who are spending less time at the desktop.
The new app could mean time-savings (not switching between multiple apps), convenience and greater leverage of mobile capabilities for users, and for Microsoft, it offers them a way to keep existing users loyal to their OS and Office Suite, gain new users, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving mobile working market.