iPad users who take their work on the go but also rely on Microsoft’s productivity solutions can now have the best of both worlds. Microsoft Office is now officially available as a native iPad work suite, rivaling Apple’s iWork apps with its own place in the iTunes App Store as a freemium offering.
Despite being arch rivals since day one, Apple and Microsoft came at odds yesterday when Tim Cook welcomed the arrival of Office on iPad, along with a congratulatory tweet targeted at Microsoft’s newly-instated CEO, Satya Nadella.
Just like on Windows, Office for iPad is available as three standalone apps which replicate the look and feel of their desktop counterparts while sporting touch-centric input and viewing tools optimized for a mobile experience. With an Office 365 subscription, users can also edit their documents and sync work across devices and get an extra 20 GB of OneDrive storage and free Skype minutes.
Here’s a rundown of the features inside every app, complete with a set of five screenshots for each one in part (click each image to expand it for full view).
Arguably the most widely used writer in the world, Microsoft Word is finally available as a native iOS solution with images, tables, charts, SmartArt, footnotes, equations, and everything else in between, all formatted just like on desktop.
You can view email attachments and access all your Word documents from OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint and sync documents across devices. Formatting includes everything from fonts, pictures, tables, and charts to textboxes, shapes, footnotes, and page layout. The touch controls make it easy to select any option from the toolbar or input text using the large virtual keyboard.
One of the least popular Office apps, Excel actually makes spreadsheets look pretty awesome on the iPad! They look a lot like they do on PC and you can input data in those pesky cells with your finger, thanks to the intuitive touch experience offered in this mobile version of the app.
Nothing is left out in terms of features: formulas, tables, charts, comments, hyperlinks, sparklines, conditional formatting, the works. Syncing across devices and opening spreadsheets from other apps is supported.
Microsoft has also included a special formula keyboard that allows iPad users to add numbers and formulas faster, and you can share your work with others by emailing a hyperlink or the entire spreadsheet, right from the app.
When inspiration kicks in and you want to make a presentation on the go, now you can do that with the new PowerPoint for iPad. Or, you can edit an existing presentation you’ve been working on at home or your work PC, as the same PPT/PPS/PPTX/PPSX file is available across all your devices.
Images, tables, charts, SmartArt, transitions, animations are available, along with support for rich formatting including fonts, pictures, tables, textboxes, shapes, transitions, and speaker notes. You can work simultaneously with others on the same presentation with a 365 subscription, while the navigation and menu options have been rebuilt entirely for touch – no keyboard required, says Microsoft.
For all three apps, a qualifying Office 365 subscription is required in order to edit and create documents. Plans include Office 365 Home, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Education A3 and A4, Office 365 University, and others. A Home subscription enables all of the features described above and is available as an in-app purchase for $99.99 / €99.99.
Remember that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are free to download and use as document viewers. Only the editing / syncing / collaboration features require a paid subscription.
Microsoft Office Mobile is also offered with similar viewing functionality for all iPhone owners as a free download.