After some missteps, Microsoft is kicking its mobile Office suite for Android into gear with free, preview-versions of some updated Office apps. They’re available to check out now if you sign-up as a tester.
Saving to a local drive, and tablet functionality are some of the improvements over earlier versions of Office on this platform.
The new apps and Office Mobile
Those problems include the fact that the cloud-only Office Mobile app won't install to tablets, for example, although it will to phablets; and that you can’t save files to the local device—you’ve got to use a cloud service.
That’s a deal-breaker for some, not least those on an airplane with a rapidly-depleting battery, and an air traffic-control delay.
A quick examination of these new, pre-release user interfaces and it’s apparent that Microsoft is listening to some disgruntled users.
The apps do look and function a lot more like the desktop versions.
How to get it
You can check them out.
Join the Google+ Microsoft Office for Android community and then follow the links to become a tester. I chose to test Word and Excel, but declined PowerPoint, because I don’t use it.
Confirm that you want to become a tester by clicking or touching the resulting blue button, and then follow the link to download the app from the Play Store.
Text indicates that it could take a few hours for the app to become available, but I found it downloaded and installed immediately.
Open the respective app in the mobile device and follow the instructions to link it to a Microsoft, or other cloud account. An additional file was downloaded and installed automatically, in my case.
The apps work best on Android devices having 1GB or more of RAM, and those running KitKat, or later versions, according to the Android community website.
There are mixed reviews from the community webpage.
“The old Office Mobile application is able to open Excel xlsm files,” but this version can’t do it, says community-member Jefferson Humanbeatbox commenting today. Xlsm files are Excel files with a macro.
The Office Mobile that Humanbeatbox refers to is the aforementioned existing Office app for Android. That app is still available by the way.
“Sheets with headers or footers containing images won’t open,” another Google+ community member Jurek Ogorek said in the same forum of the new Android-version of Excel.
But, some like it.
The new “Excel feels noticeably faster" than the old app, says Macchinario_strauss on an Android Reddit subgroup thread.
“The old Office for Android was atrocious,” Cassiuz, in the same Reddit, reckons.
“It couldn't handle anything more than basic font-size formatting, and was generally horrible to use.”
These non-combined “tablet versions are much better, almost identical to the formatting performance of Windows-based Office,” that user says.
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