Earlier this month I felt like Carnac the Magnificent. We held another Office 365 Event, and in that event the question came up: “Can I use Office 365 on my iPad and iPhone?” My answer was “Yes, there are several apps that let you edit Office documents and other apps that let you sync files with Office 365 services like SharePoint and SkyDrive Pro.” I also said that I expected that very soon Microsoft would be releasing apps for the iOS devices, cue the Carnac moment. The very next day Microsoft released their new Office 365 app for iPhone. This native app connects to Office 365, allowing access to documents stored in Skydrive Pro and in Sharepoint. The app shows a list of recently opened documents in a single list from both Skydrive and Sharepoint. The really neat thing about this is that this isn’t just documents recently opened on the device, but from your laptop or desktop.
The Office 365 app is able to view, edit, and create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Viewing these documents is great. Documents load quickly and navigation through the document is fluid and responsive. Editing and creating documents however is still a little weak. Word for example allows you to change font size and color though the colors are limited to 3 colors. You can bold, italicize, underline, strike through and highlight text. Again, the highlight colors available to you are limited. Editing and creating content in Excel and PowerPoint are also equally limited. While these limitations are very disheartening, I expect Microsoft will continue to improve and update the app to make it more powerful.
You may have noticed that at the beginning of this article I said specifically that Microsoft released this app for iPhones. That is because there is not an app designed for the larger format iPad. The iPhone app, like any other app, will also run on the iPad in normal size or zoom mode. Microsoft however recommends using the Office 365 Web Apps in Safari on the iPad for editing and creating content. As part of their announcement, Microsoft also stated that enhancements have been made to the Office 365 web apps to better support Safari on iOS, giving iPad and iPhone users a better user experience.
I am very excited about the iPhone Office 365 app despite its shortcomings. This app signals to me a move to deeper support for Apple mobile devices using Microsoft technologies than ever before. I love the Office 365 platform. The value Office 365 brings to businesses of all sizes is greatly enhanced by the ability to access, edit, and create documents and collaborate on more devices in more places whether you use the new iPhone app or the Office 365 Web Apps.