At long, long last, Microsoft is rolling out Office Mobile for iPhone. It's a free iPhone app for Office 365 subscribers. The app aims to help Office users access content on the go and offers full editing capabilities.
Here's how it works: After signing in to an Office 365 account, you can access, view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents from anywhere. You can use Office Mobile to keep your content and formatting intact so the documents aren't skewed when you view them again on a Mac or PC, according to the company.
"When we launched Office 365 earlier this year, we committed to delivering regular updates and new capabilities to Office 365 subscribers," Julia White, general manager of the Microsoft Office Division, wrote in a blog post. "Since then, we've expanded Skype calling and added new OneNote features."
How It Works
White offered a rundown of specifically what iPhone users can do with the new app. Beyond keeping the format intact when viewing, editing or adding comments, Office Mobile for iPhone promises to offer quick access to content in the cloud on SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro.
"When you're on your phone, you'll easily find the content you viewed on your computer in the Recent Documents panel," White said. "And, of course, you can view and edit Office documents sent in e-mail."
Office Mobile has been optimized for the small screen. White said that makes it easy to use features like Slide Navigator, which allows you to page through PowerPoint presentations. Speaker Notes help you practice presentations on the go. The Resume Reading feature takes you to the exact point in the document where you left off on your computer.
"You can make quick edits and share your documents right from your phone with Office Mobile," White said. "When working with others, you can review comments in Word and Excel documents on your phone and add your own. When you're done, you can save directly to SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro or just send as an e-mail attachment."
Does It Really Work?
Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said Office Mobile for iPhone is a win for customers who love their iPhones and are also Office 365 subscribers.
"In some ways it's trying to make Office 365 a more welcoming place for people who may have an iPhone," Miller told us. "It's not on the iPad, so from a real productivity perspective that's an unfortunate decision, though not terribly surprising."
As Miller sees it, the app honors the iOS design paradigm reasonable well and is a more professional alternative to some third-party solutions. But he's already run into problems editing Word documents on the app.
"I had a Word document and the app wasn't able to edit it, which was actually surprising because it was a relatively simply formatted Word document. It's going to be interesting to see where the edges are and what the app can actually handle," Miller said.
"There are a lot of document types and I don't think this app is going to be able to handle all of them. But I expect if the app says it's going to let you make changes to the document that it will probably do a better job of not corrupting the actual content or formatting of the content than third-party alternatives."