PSST. Android Road Warriors. Do you already have an Office 365 subscription? Have we got news for you. Microsoft announced Wednesday "Office Mobile for Android," available on Google Play but only for those with Office 365 subscriptions.
"In June, we released Office Mobile for iPhone as a unique benefit for Office 365 subscribers," according to the announcement. "Today, we are launching Office Mobile for Android phones in the United States at no additional charge for Office 365 subscribers." (You cannot get an Office 365 subscription from the Google Play store if you do not already have one, though. You need to sign up at www.office.com.)
So what do you get? Basically, for the less starry-eyed, this Android flavor is a pared-down Office morsel of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can make edits and add comments.
In addition to making adjustments to existing work, you can share the files, too. The mobile worker with an Office 365 subscription will appreciate being able to pick up files on an Android phone right where he left off on his desktop back at the office. The mobile worker will also be able to create and edit documents and save them to SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro.
See, Save, Share
"When you're on your phone, you'll see the list of documents you recently opened on your computer in the Recent Documents panel -- no searching needed," according to Microsoft. "And of course, you can view and edit documents you receive in email."
Mobile Android users will also have a sharing feature, where comments can be seen and added, saved to SkyDrive, or sent, if needed, as an email attachment,
As for Apple-using mobile workers, enjoying Microsoft Office features on their iOS smartphones happened back in June. Now Android users can enjoy the same mobile work flexibility, provided their phones have Android 4.0 or higher.
What About Rush Hour?
The Microsoft blog post called the Android debut "a true Office experience" but the question arises: What about pecking out revisions to your partner's cost estimates on a smartphone screen while riding a train during rush hour with limited breathing room only? Why not use a tablet ?
The Office Mobile for Android users will not work on an Android tablet. Office Mobile for Android phones is limited to phone screens, because it was specifically designed for small-screen devices.
Guy Gilbert, a senior product manager of the Office apps for Microsoft, said in his blog, "We built Office Mobile for Android phones to ensure a great Office experience when using a small-screen device. Therefore, you will not be able to download and install Office Mobile for Android phones on an Android tablet from the Google Play store."
Mobile Facts of Life
Gilbert added that for people who have Android tablets, "we recommend using the Office Web Apps," which he says delivers "the best Office experience on a tablet."
As for business strategy, Microsoft's move to bring Office to Google's highly popular mobile operating system is not only a convenient gift for Android smartphone users with Office 365 subscriptions but also a sign that Microsoft gets it: Android and iOS systems are facts of mobile life.
The Office app, immediately available in the U.S., will be rolled out in more countries over the next several weeks.