Microsoft's dream of integrating its three most widely used productivity apps into a single mobile app is finally coming true as the maker of the Windows desktop operating system announced the launch of its new Office app, on Wednesday.
Available now on Android and iOS devices (tablets included) as a free download, the new Microsoft Office app serves as a one-stop-shop for opening and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. It also allows the user to scan physical documents and convert hand-drawn tables into Excel sheets.
Microsoft launched the new Office app on the Google Play Store and Apple AppStore Wednesday after many months of public preview. In a manner of speaking, it combines the power of the existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint standalone apps but doesn't replace them.
Microsoft says it has created the new Office app to create a simplified Office experience on mobile devices and to reduce the amount of storage space taken up by them. On an average modern Android device such as the OnePlus 5, the new Office app takes up as much as nearly 500MB of storage space.
The new Microsoft Office app not only integrates the features of the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps but also brings additional productivity features to users who frequently deal with documents and spreadsheets.
For example, it can use the device's camera to convert a physical document or whiteboard drawing into a PDF file. It can also convert hand-drawn tables into Excel sheets using OCR (optical character recognition). It also supports digital signing of PDF files and file transfers between a PC and a smartphone of sizes up to 10MB. It also offers a few note-taking features.
Unlike Microsoft's Office 365, the new Office app does not require a subscription. However, Microsoft says that signing in to the app with a Microsoft account that is linked to Office 365 will unlock a few premium features.
"We have made several enhancements since the public preview—such as support for third-party storage services including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud; templates to help you create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; and general performance improvements," writes Microsoft in its blog post.