A Look at Microsoft's new Office app for Android
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.
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".
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.
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