Office has been available for both Windows phones and iOS for a while now and has worked well so far. While Android tablet users have been able to use it, the Office experience hasn’t been as good as we had hoped. That’s all set to change with the latest update.
This is an initial release offering preview versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and are available to download now from Google Play. Unlike the tablet version, this preview doesn’t have such steep hardware requirements or demand a 10.1” screen.
The Office apps installed and worked right away on our tester phone, with PowerPoint only needing a slight tweak to get working. Each opens in its own window and allows you to create, open, edit and save office documents that are compatible across platforms.
The appearance and use of this preview version of Office for Android phones has a similar look and feel as the Office 2016 preview. It’s slick, has Windows 10 styling and has concentrated on making using the apps simple and painless. They respond to touch well and seems to work with our 5” screen.
As long as you have OneDrive, SharePoint, Dropbox or a Google Drive account, you can save them to the cloud and share them too. The preview also allows a bit of collaboration on files by tracking changes and marking up documents, just like you would with Windows OS.
Bear in mind that this is a preview version and that you will need to join the Microsoft Office beta program for Android devices to use it. Once you get over the fact that Microsoft has a Google+ page for the beta program, you simply join up and get access to the apps. You will then need to become a tester by joining the preview test groups. There is a group for Word, one for Excel and one for PowerPoint.
Signups for the preview program takes a couple of seconds but the system can take a few hours to come through. We’re guessing it’s quite popular given how prevalent Android phones are. We would advocate signing at least one user or phone up to the program as it will give you the option to input into the development of Office. As heavy users of the entire Office suite, we are definitely going to have our say!
It’s still early days for Office for Android phones but this preview shows development is moving in the right direction. As long as the concentration is more on making what we have better and more fluid and not on adding more bells and whistles, we think Office will remain relevant long into the future.