Microsoft Adds iCloud Support for Office for iOS Apps



Microsoft released new versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel for iPhone/iPad today that allow users to open, edit, and save to iCloud. This comes on the heels of Microsoft making these apps free, adding Dropbox support, and expanding storage space on OneDrive for subscribers of Office 365. Microsoft seems to be fulfilling its promise to concentrate on getting users using Microsoft Services and software without forcing them to get locked into one platform. 

If you are already using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your iPhone/iPad, just check the App store for the free update. Otherwise search the App store to download these apps for free. 

Microsoft Office Apps Come to iPhone, Editing and Creating Now Available for iPad and iPhone

Microsoft announced on its blog today, that Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are now universal, meaning that they are available for both iPad and iPhone. In addition to Word, Excel and PowerPoint now being available on the iPhone, the updated apps now allow users of both iPhone and iPad to create and edit Microsoft Office documents without a subscription to Office 365. The prior versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad could only be used to view documents without a subscription to Office 365.

As part of this release, the horrible Microsoft Office Mobile app for iPhone will be retired. Additionally, Microsoft has promised a preview of Office for Android tablets in the near future and confirmed that a touch-optimized version of Office is in development for Windows 10.

Although Microsoft announced immediate availability of the updates in the Apple App Store, I could only access them with through a link currently and not through an App Store Search.

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This is a great change for Microsoft. Although a Microsoft Office 365 account is not needed for editing abilities, you do have to login with a Microsoft Account. If you already have a Live.com account, a Hotmail Account, or you have registered with Microsoft in any way, you can use the same login information. If you do not have an account, it is free to setup and use. If you do not login with a Microsoft Account, you are still limited to just viewing documents.

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The Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on the iPhone are just as full featured as the iPad versions, but due to the smaller screen, toolbar options have been adjusted to a menu instead of across the top. It will not be as quick to edit and create on an iPhone, but it is a nice option for those situations when you do not have access to a computer or tablet. I can confirm that documents that I routinely use with advanced formatting options appeared in the native format on my phone.

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Dropbox integration that was just recently announced has been added in the updated apps. When you first launch the updated app, you are given the option of immediately signing in to Dropbox. If you decline, the option can easily be added later by selecting “Add a Service” under connected services. I was able to easily add my Dropbox account and authenticate through the Dropbox App. Editing and viewing of Dropbox documents worked with no problem.

This is a very welcome addition to the Microsoft Office Applications.

Microsoft Office 365 Adding Support for Dropbox

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a new partnership today that will allow users to more easily access documents, spreadsheets and presentations stored in Dropbox. Under the new partnership, iPad apps for Dropbox and office apps including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, will offer easy ways to access and edit documents using the Office suite of apps. Along with Microsoft’s own OneDrive, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be able to connect the apps to Dropbox and open and save documents directly to this service. When viewing documents in Dropbox, iPad users will be given the option to directly open documents in the Office 365 apps to view and edit.

It appears that a subscription to Office 365 will still be needed to create and edit documents using the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, but the additional cloud storage option will be welcomed by many users. Considering Microsoft’s recent announcement of unlimited cloud storage for subscribers of Office 365, I’m not sure Dropbox is still necessary, but if you are using that service, this change should make life easier for you. The updated apps are expected soon. See the Verge for more information. IMG_5676.JPG

Microsoft Joins the Fitness Race with Microsoft Band

Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band on Wednesday October 29, 2014. The Microsoft Band is a cross-platform smart fitness tracker that can also double as a watch. Appearance wise, the Microsoft Band is very similar to the Samsung Gear Fit, but unlike the Samsung device, the Band works with iPhone, Android and Microsoft Phone devices. The Band can display a clock, track steps, monitor sleep, continuously monitor heart rate and show notifications. Guided workouts are available from fitness partners, and all fitness data is compiled in Microsoft’s Health app. In addition to the heart rate sensor mentioned above, the Microsoft Band also includes 9 other sensors (including GPS) and can even monitor your sleep.

Microsoft Band Internals

The Microsoft Band is on sale at Microsoft Stores and online for $199.99 and comes in three different band sizes (all priced the same). The display can be personalized with different colors and backgrounds, but the Band itself is only available in black. Notifications, text messages and incoming call alerts can all be viewed on the Band, but you are not able to respond directly from the Band on iPhones. Microsoft has announced partnerships with MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, mapmyfitness, and Starbucks to add additional functionality to the Band. The display is full-color touchscreen, and is expected to last 48 hours on a 90 minute charge.

This is an interesting product from Microsoft that offers some of the functionality of the upcoming Apple Watch at a much lower price, but a much less attractive appearance. The Band can perform most of the same tasks as a Pebble, but comes in a package that makes it look more comparable to a fitness bracelet. One of the odd things is that the display is horizontal across the widest part of your wrist (unlike a watch). This means that to read the display you must hold your arm straight out in front of you, instead of bent at the elbow like you normally do with a watch. To me this seems like a weird way to interact with notifications and comfortably view information.

I visited the Microsoft Store to view the watch, and it seems very big on the wrist. Unlike my Pebble, I was unable to pull my sleeve over the Microsoft Band. In order for the heart rate monitor to function, you must wear the Band with the face on the palm side of your wrist. This leaves a very ugly clasp on the top of your wrist. I also would be concerned that while using a computer, the Band would also be scratching against my desk.

Although I am happy that Microsoft is making products and applications that are cross-platform with Android and iOS, I am not sure if this specific product will appeal to a mass market. It is priced above the costs of most fitness bands (albeit with more features), but not attractive enough to be worn as a watch. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft expands its product range to include a more fashion-focused alternative in the future.

Microsoft OneDrive Goes Unlimited, Improved Encryption for Business Users

Microsoft OneDrive for iPhone

Microsoft announced on Monday October 27, 2014, that its cloud file service, OneDrive, has been updated to allow unlimited storage to subscribers of Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft OneDrive was just updated earlier this summer to provide Office 365 subscribers with 1TB of cloud storage. This means that for as low as $6.99 per month, a user can have a full version of Microsoft Office installed on a desktop computer, use Microsoft Office on the iPad, use Microsoft Office Online, and have unlimited cloud storage of Microsoft OneDrive.

Microsoft OneDrive for iPhone

The storage update is being rolled out in phases beginning with Office 365 Home, Personal and University customers. Microsoft promises that the roll-out will continue over the next few months, with OneDrive for Business customers seeing unlimited storage in 2015.

Additionally, Microsoft announced enhanced Mobile Device Management (MDM) for Office 365. IT administrators will be able to set more advanced mobile device policies for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices running Office 365 beginning the first quarter of 2015. This will be done directly from the Office 365 administration portal, and will allow an Office 365 administrator to perform selective wipes of devices to remove only Office 365 corporate data (and leaving personal data intact), to set requirements of security (like pin access), and disable services if a Jailbreak or root is detected.

Microsoft also indicated that SharePoint and OneDrive for Business have been enhanced to provide advanced encryption of data at rest (while files are stored on Microsoft’s servers). Per-file encryption has been added, which means that every file stored on OneDrive for Business now has its own unique key, and any update to the file creates a new unique key. This means that even if an individual is somehow able to intercept the encryption key, it will only work for one file, and is only valid until that file is modified. Also if brute force is used to break the encryption of the protected file, each and every file has to have its encryption key broken separately.

These updates to OneDrive for Business and Office 365 further strengthen Microsoft’s offering in the cloud and office productivity areas. Microsoft is making it easier everyday to leave competing products from Google and DropBox behind.

Dropbox Increases Storage Available in Pro Plan to 1 TB

Dropbox announced today that Dropbox Pro will now inlcude 1 TB of storage and enhanced sharing controls. This makes Dropbox much more competitive with Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. Existing users will see the increased storage and new sharing controls in the next few days. Dropbox Pro will continue to cost $9.99 per month. See my post on Mobile4Law.com for more information.Dropbox

Microsoft Office Suite for iPad Updated: Export to PDF!

Microsoft Updates Office for iPad

Microsoft released the first major update for Office for the iPad on July 31, 2014. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel all received updates. Most notable for all three apps is the ability to export to PDF and to use third-party fonts. Each app also gained the ability to crop photos that are being used (you could previously add photos to each, but you were unable to crop).

Microsoft PowerPoint 1.1 for iPad Presenter View Screenshot

Microsoft PowerPoint added important presentation features for attorneys. You now have the ability to view and edit speaker notes, see your next slide and jump to others slides while presenting. Media (video and audio) can be played while presenting now, and videos can be added from your camera roll. It will be nice for attorneys using PowerPoint for presentations and trials to now be able to fully control slides in any order.

Microsoft Excel also added more support for PivotTables, external keyboards, and cell selection. You can now flick a cell’s selection handle to select all data in a row or column. All the same keys that you use on a desktop version of Excel are also now supported for the iPad version of Excel when using an external keyboard. Finally PivotTables can be modified when source data is in the same workbook.

Microsoft Word was the most boring of the updates. The major addition to Word is the ability to send as PDF, use third-party fonts, and to crop photos. These features were also added to the other apps in the Office for iPad suite.

Send as PDF in Microsoft Word

It is nice to see that Microsoft continues to make the apps in the Office Suite better for the iPad. I am disappointed that Microsoft still hasn’t added “Open In” support for these apps, but you still have the option of launching Microsoft One Drive, and using “Open In” to export documents to other apps on your iPad.

As reminder, these apps are free to download from the Apple App store, but you must have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 to use all the features. (You can use each app as a viewer for free, but you need a subscription to create and edit documents). Microsoft offers in-app purchase of an Office 365 subscription, or it can be purchased directly from Microsoft or third-party resellers. Amazon currently has one year subscription keys available for as inexpensive as $64.00. Office 365 Home 1yr Subscription Key Card

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