A Look at Microsoft's new Office app for Android

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 20, 2020
Google Android, Microsoft Office

Microsoft published its new Office application for Android and iOS on February 19, 2020 designed to improve the Office experience on mobile devices. The new Office application was in preview for a couple of months but is now generally available worldwide according to Microsoft.

It combines the Office programs Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and introduces mobile-specific capabilities to improve its usability and functionality on mobile devices.

Installation of the Android application is straightforward. Note that it will only run on the "last 4 major versions of Android" and requires a device with 1 Gigabytes of RAM or more. Microsoft wants to collected additional data but you can deny that as you are prompted to allow it.

microsoft office android

It is not necessary to link the app to a Microsoft account but you can do so to get access to OneDrive and the documents stored there (the app supports other storage providers such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive).

One of the greatest strengths of the Office application is that it contains the three apps Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These were previously available as standalone versions only and pretty good for viewing documents or making light edits.

Office uses less phone storage than the three applications and it introduces mobile specific features to extend use scenarios.

Microsoft integrated the company's Lens technology into the app. Lens may be used for a variety of purposes including converting images to Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, scan PDF documents, or capture whiteboards.

The process itself takes just a few taps. Select Actions from the Office apps' Home screen and select one of the available actions. Besides image to test and image to table, you will find options to scan and sign PDF documents, create a PDF from pictures, or to share files to nearby phones or transfer files to a computer.

Microsoft promises that it will add "new exciting features" to the Office application in the coming months. The company revealed some of these in the announcement.

  • Dictation support in Word with access to a toolbar to apply formatting and punctuation. Supported languages have not been mentioned, likely US-only in the beginning.
  • Excel Cards View to view and edit Excel data in a mobile friendly format.
  • Outline to PowerPoint to create a simple outline and let PowerPoint Designer turn it into "presentable slides" with "proper styling, formatting, and iconography".

Closing Words

The new Office application worked really well during tests on a Google Pixel 3a device. The app was responsive and provided a good user experience. Viewing and creating documents worked as expected; it is still limiting compared to desktop use because of the smaller screen and lack of a real keyboard.

The integrated actions complement the app well and it will be interesting to see how everything turns out once Microsoft begins to integrate more mobile-exclusive features to the apps.

Now You: do you use an Office app on your mobile devices?

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  1. Anon said on February 21, 2020 at 8:49 am

    This is more like Office Cloud. Oh, hell no.

  2. Jeff said on February 21, 2020 at 8:38 am

    While 100 MB at launch for 3 apps and full featured editing is good, I hope it doesn’t balloon into one of those 400-500 MB bloated apps. Microsoft apps always have a tendency to bloat up over time. Also the UI seems awful with horrid hard to understand icons and no text labels on toolbar buttons anywhere.

  3. James Kelly said on February 20, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Won’t install on Galaxy SM-T580 although it’s Android 8.1. Still using the separate apps for Office.

  4. Douglas said on February 20, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Microsoft gives me the creeps with all their telemetry-infected bloatware.

    1. mike said on February 20, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      second that

  5. SteveB said on February 20, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Your question – “do you use an Office app on your mobile devices” —- Nope, on my Chromebooks and Pixels I use Google Docs.

  6. Steve said on February 20, 2020 at 10:10 am

    You have to love this app permissions. The most relevant to know listed below:

    find accounts on the device
    add or remove accounts

    Device ID & call information
    read phone status and identity

    find accounts on the device
    read your contacts

    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
    read the contents of your USB storage

    read phone status and identity

    Device & app history
    read sensitive log data

    receive data from Internet
    create accounts and set passwords
    connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
    use accounts on the device
    access Bluetooth settings
    pair with Bluetooth devices

  7. Jimmy said on February 20, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Can it open ODT files without connecting to the internet?
    Because the Word app can’t.

  8. Benjamin said on February 20, 2020 at 7:51 am

    On my Android device… Running a netstat app, then starting the Lens App one can see that there is a https connection from the app to a microsoft server.
    It is of course where the conversion takes place and the results are then sent back to the users device.

    Take care of which kind of documents you make photos for conversion…

  9. Brian said on February 20, 2020 at 7:32 am

    I think they’re wrong when the say “Last 4 major versions of Android,” since lower down on the page it says “6.0 and up” — and it in fact will install on a 6.0 device.

    6, 7, 8, 9, 10 = five versions

    1. Martin said on February 20, 2020 at 11:42 am

      It won’t let me install it on a 2nd generation Nexus 7, with Android version 6.0.1.

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