Microsoft is releasing its new unified Office app for iOS and Android today, which combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single application. The software maker first started beta-testing this new Office app as a hub for all things Office mobile back in November, and now, anyone can download and install it. Microsoft has focused on surfacing some of the more mobile-friendly parts of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into quick actions that let you get stuff done on the go.
All of the main apps are combined, meaning you can switch between documents quickly, scan PDFs, and even capture whiteboards, text, and tables into digital versions. Microsoft is also adding support for third-party cloud storage like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. Today’s release will also be available on Android tablets with “limited support,” and a fully optimized tablet experience will be available on both iPadOS and Android soon.
While the initial feature set will be useful for quickly creating templates, scanning tables, and just using Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files on the go, Microsoft has more mobile-focused features planned. Word dictation looks set to be one of the most interesting. You’ll be able to use Word within this Office app to dictate your voice into text. There’s even a voice command bar for adding punctuation like commas, question marks, and exclamation marks.
Elsewhere, Microsoft is planning to make Excel easier to use on mobile with a new cards view. You’ll be able to view and edit data from Excel rows in a card view that makes it a lot easier to see on a vertical phone screen. Excel was designed with columns and wider screens in mind, and often, you’ll scroll across a dataset and forget which line you were looking at. This new card view helps improve that for people who want to edit and view Excel sheets on the go.
The final new feature that Microsoft is planning for the future converts a simple outline into a PowerPoint presentation. “Often there’s just a bunch of bullet points or a bunch of ideas we start with,” explains Office app product manager Nithya Sampathkumar in an interview with The Verge. “So we said, ‘how do we make sure that work can get started on mobile?’ That’s the basis for create outline.” The new feature lets you write a presentation in bullet points or a brief outline, and PowerPoint’s Designer feature will transform it into presentation slides complete with a style and formatting.
These three new features won’t be available today, but Microsoft is planning to introduce them in the coming months. For now, you can download the new unified Office app for iOS and Android. Microsoft is still planning to keep the individual Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps available for people who only use the standalone versions, but this combined app is clearly where most of the new mobile-focused features will appear in the future.