Microsoft finally brings real functionality to Office programs to iOS and Android devices for free. That means, starting today (Nov. 6), you won't need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents in the cloud.
The update breaks out each program (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) into its own app. All the apps are compatible with Dropbox integration for cloud storage. While iOS users can take advantage of the new apps today, Android fans will have to wait until early 2015 for Microsoft to bring over the new Office apps.
What's the catch, you ask? Some advanced features such as adding columns and custom tables are still only available to Office 365 subscribers. In Word, you can change fonts, but changing a document from portrait to landscape format requires a subscription, as does Presenter view in PowerPoint.
On a iPhone, the Office apps have been customized for use on smaller screens, highlighted by the new Reflow feature that shifts text and images for a more palatable view on your phone. The interface is clean and simple. Hitting a single button in the top right gives you access to font and type options, and a drop down menu for insert, layout, review and view. You can even use the voice dictation to convert your speech into text.
The least expensive Office 365 plan costs $6.99 per month and gives you full unlocked mobile apps along with a desktop version on one computer and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage. The next tier up costs $9.99 per month and increases the number of desktop and mobile installations to five devices each, and 1TB of storage for five different users. There are also Office365 Business subscriptions, although the cheapest $5 a month option does not include full mobile support.
Microsoft is not extending this "free program" to businesses, which are required to have an Office 365 subscription to access OneDrive or Dropbox for work. Meanwhile, Apple already offers its iWork apps on the iPad at no cost.