Microsoft’s Office suite has always been among the most wanted apps on iOS, despite the fact that MS never gave a clear timeframe regarding its release. At one point, there were even rumors that Office for iOS isn’t even being developed, and there are no plans for bringing it to iPhone and iPad. Microsoft’s own mobile OS comes with pretty neat Office integration, which might have been another reason for delaying the release of the tool on other platforms. Having said that, there is no shortage of decent third-party apps for iOS that are capable of handling Office documents, like the previously covered Smart Office 2, but there’s nothing like having an official app for a major service. Completely out of the blue, the wishes of many iOS users have come true and Office Mobile for iOS has finally been released (Update: Now available for Android as well). There is a catch or two though, which we will discuss past the break.
For one thing, the app has only been released for the iPhone presently, and the much sought-after iPad version is still nowhere to be seen. Also, Office Mobile can only be used by subscribers of Office 365 – Microsoft’s subscription-based paid service (although it does come with a free trial). If you don’t have a 365 account, there is no way of signing in to begin using the Office Mobile app.
Anyone expecting Office’s iOS version to be something like the suite’s excellent desktop client is sure to be sorely disappointed after seeing Office Mobile. The app is pretty basic, and doesn’t come with too many formatting options either. There are a few templates for Word and Excel files that might help you create documents quickly, while blank spreadsheets and documents can be created from the ‘New’ tab as well. To open an existing file, head to the ‘Open’ section, where all your SkyDrive data is available.
DOCX files can be both created and edited on the app. The formatting options let you change the color and size of the text once a snippet has been selected. Bold, italic, underline, highlight and strike-through are the other available options in the formatting menu. For some reason, Office Mobile only offers red, green and blue colors for the font and highlighting.
Finished files can be saved to SkyDrive, or shared via email. You can also change the file’s name before saving or sharing it.
Like Word docs, XLS files can also be created and edited in Office Mobile. The options that are available for Excel files though, are much more comprehensive. You can select a number of columns and rows using drag gestures, and then perform various operations on them. These operations include summation and counting, as well as finding minimum and maximum values. Calculating percentages and averages, and entering dates into spreadsheets is possible as well.
Office Mobile is pretty good at creating charts out of selected data. The available graph formats include column, line, pie, bar, area and scatter.
PowerPoint files cannot be created from scratch in Office Mobile, but if you have a PPTX file stored in SkyDrive, it is possible to edit and view it on your iPhone. The presentations show up complete with their animations, and move ahead each time you tap the screen. To get an overview of the file, hit the grid icon located in the top-right corner. The position of individual slides can be changed as well from the ‘Editing Tools’ menu. Changing a slide’s existing text is also possible.
Office Mobile allows its users to work on all file formats even when they are offline. Of course, you have to go online in order to make your documents available across different devices, but the iPhone app is capable of holding the files along with all the changes made to them until that time comes. Office Mobile a free app, although it needs an account for a paid service to function. If you are an Office 365 subscriber or are willing to shell out a few bucks just for the sake of this app, head over to link below and grab Office Mobile right now.
Update: The Android version of Microsoft Office Mobile has made its way to the Google Play Store as promised, though it seems to be region restricted currently. We’ve added a link to it below.