Thursday, June 25, 2015

Microsoft Officially Launches Office For Android Phone

Microsoft this morning announced the official launch of Office for Android phone, five weeks after the company rolled out the suite of applications as a preview. 

 Today’s release, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint designed for the Android smartphone experience, follows earlier efforts at bringing Office to Android tablets, as well as support for Office on iOS devices, Windows and OS X.

The Office apps offer support for a variety of common tasks, including the ability to review and edit files while on the go, presenting PowerPoint presentations from your phone, and quickly pulling up documents even when they’re stored on competing services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Box. The apps, which will replace the older Office Mobile, require 1 GB of RAM and Android KitKat (4.4.x) or above. Android M is not yet supported.

The apps are free to use provided you have a free Microsoft account, but a number of extra features aimed at power users can be unlocked with an Office 365 subscription.

The apps will also be pre-installed on devices from over 30 OEMs, including Samsung, LG, Sony, and others, the company notes. Many of these devices will arrive in retail stores later in the year.

However, users don’t have to wait for their own handset to come with Office pre-loaded – the apps are now available to the public for download. Word for Android, Excel for Android and PowerPoint for Android are live now on Google Play, and in China, they’re available on a number of alternative app stores, including those from Tencent, Baidu, Xiaomi, and CMCC. The Samsung Galaxy Store also offers others around the world access to download.

According to Microsoft, preview testers ran the Office for Android phone apps on over 1,900 different phone models in 83 countries, which allowed the company to incorporate their feedback into the versions out today. Testers’ feedback not only helped the company troubleshoot bugs, but Microsoft also made adjustments to the user interface and added features, it says. For instance, the Office for Android phone apps now connect to third-party storage services including Google Drive and Box, and Microsoft implemented usability adjustments to make it easier to navigate commands within the apps.

The release represents yet another move by Microsoft to fully embrace its cross-platform strategy when it comes to its software. Office was once tied largely to Windows PCs, but the company today is working to make sure its flagship productivity suite works anywhere its users are – even on competitors’ OS’s. The strategy seems to be succeeding at putting Office in the hands of a large audience – in April of this year, the company said its iOS and Android downloads combined had topped 100 million.