Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are slimming down so they can get down to work on your Android smartphone.
Following up to the Office for Android tablet release in January, Microsoft has unveiled a preview build of its core productivity apps that allow you to view and edit files on the go. The new apps will replace the older Office Mobile for Android phones when the final versions hit the streets.
To try out the preview apps, you’ll need to head to the Office Android Preview page on Google+ and join Microsoft’s community. Then, visit the testing pages in the Play Store for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and agree to become a tester.
You’ll then be prompted to download links for the Office apps, though Microsoft cautions it sometimes takes the Play Store up to four hours to process this final step. You’ll need a device running KitKat (Android 4.4) or above to try them out.
The interface is consistent with Office for Android tablets, using the ribbon to organize the key functions in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You'll also find the ability to track changes and make comments that you can share with other collaborators. You can also pull in files saved on your device or through cloud services like OneDrive and Dropbox.
While anyone can view and edit files, the full gamut of options is only available to Office 365 subscribers.
Microsoft notes that many tools, like Excel’s tabs, are moved to the bottom of the screen so they’re within easy reach of your fingers. Word also offers a button that resizes the file into a reading-friendly format by stripping away most of the interface.
Given the popularity of big-screened Android phones like the Galaxy Note 4 and new LG G4, bringing Office to phones makes a lot of sense. There are bound to be a few bugs given the apps’ preview status, but in the last go-around Microsoft pushed out rather frequent updates.
The story behind the story: Microsoft’s mobile first, cloud first strategy is behind the company’s effort to put its apps on Android and iOS. Instead of using core services like Office to push everyone to Windows, Microsoft is now happy to bring its latest and greatest apps to other companies’ home turf. The strategy will need to pay off, however, by getting more people tied into an Office 365 subscription.