Microsoft Releases Its New Office App for the iPad

Microsoft has released its unified Office app for the Apple tablet. With it, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are now available as a single download across the iPhone and iPad in the App Store. Microsoft still provides these iPad apps as standalone downloads.

Better Late Than Never

“We’re combining the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps you know into a single, iPadOS-optimized app,” Microsoft wrote in release notes accompanying the download. This is great news if you use Office and want to work on the go. For those looking to turn their iPad into a laptop replacement, this is a crucial release.

The apps are available free of charge, but editing and other advanced functionality require an Office 365 subscription. For those wondering, Microsoft offers various in-app subscription options starting from $6.99 per month.

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If you only need a word processor on your iPad, it might be a better idea to consider alternatives in Winkeys’s roundup of the best word-processing apps for the iPad.

A Unified Mobile Office Experience

To be clear, this is an update to the existing Office for iOS, not a brand-new release. The all-in-one Office app made its debut on the iPhone and Android in February 2020. It’s unclear what took Microsoft a full year to add iPad-optimized versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to the mix, but better late than never.

Related: Apple iWork vs. Microsoft Office: Which Is Better?

Before today, the productivity apps included in the suite provided a sub-par experience on the iPad because they used to run in a windowed mode. But with the latest update now available, Apple customers can now have the native Office experience across their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch regardless of screen size.

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iPad-Specific Features

Microsoft has been adding new, tablet-optimized features to its mobile Office offerings on a regular basis. As an example, mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have recently picked up support for mouse and trackpad gestures. The apps also support iOS’ Split View side-by-side multitasking feature.

While mobile and desktop editions of Office do not have all the same features, the new Office for iOS brings out a few new features. These permit you to do things such as sign documents with your Apple Pencil or finger, quickly create PDFs from your documents, convert images to text and tables, and so forth.

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Also, you can now easily insert date, shape, picture, and notes in PDFs. As for power users, they can now access Office’s image-based actions (like Create PPT, Create PDF, and more) through iOS’s multi-purpose Share menu. “In addition, if there are any recent screenshots when you open the Office app, these are surfaced as a suggestion to convert to PDF or PPT”, the company notes.

Microsoft will be making some changes to its Office suite for Mac and Windows as well. According to the Windows maker, upcoming updates to Office for desktop in 2021 will feature perpetual licenses, aside from other enhancements.

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