An official, Microsoft-supported version of the popular Office suite, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, has finally arrived for the iPhone.
On Friday, Microsoft announced the release of Office Mobile for iPhone, a free download from the Apple App Store that will give users Microsoft-native access to their documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows. Although the application is free to download, however, users will be asked to sign in to their Office 365 account. Office 365 is Microsoft’s subscription version of Microsoft Office, and costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 for a year subscription.
Because Microsoft Office is still the dominant productivity software in most corporations, and given the fact that there have been few, if any, applications that perfectly replicate the Office experience on an iPhone, the release of Office Mobile for iPhone may be enough of a carrot on a stick to entice some users to get on board with Office 365.
“Because Office Mobile is from Microsoft, your formatting and layout remain intact when viewing, editing, or adding comments, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes,” Microsoft officials said in their announcement. “When you return to your PC or Mac your document looks like it should.”
One of the key features of Office 365 is its integration with Microsoft SkyDrive, meaning any documents that have been saved into the SkyDrive cloud on a computer will be accessible through the mobile device. Unfortunately, however, there is no native integration with other cloud storage services like Dropbox or Box.
Office Mobile for iPhone also means it is just for the iPhone. There is no iPad version of the app currently, and Microsoft’s announcement didn’t mention an iPad version.