While Google continues to improve the Drive suite experience on Android, Microsoft is making headway with Office on Android. All three apps (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, in case you need a reminder) have gotten updates, adding features and improving editing tools on touchscreens.
Word has two major new or improved features in this release. The first is a better experience when inserting a table into a document. Before, configuring a table was a finicky and fiddly mess, equivalent to painting a tiny model soldier with pins and needles in your hands. With this update, inserting a table is much easier; the cells are bigger by default, with a resize handle at the bottom right to quickly resize the table. Read More
Microsoft's Office Lens scanning app is really good at what it does and that might be why they don't bother to update it too often nowadays. But this is one of those special times when it has gotten some love from the good people in Redmond. The headlining feature is getting to OCR handwritten text in scans, but I assure you that there is a bit of a catch. More practically useful is the other new feature, the option to rotate your scans.
So what's the deal with getting OCR on scans of handwritten documents? Well, for the uninitiated, OCR refers to methods for parsing letters from images. Read More
Microsoft's SmartGlass app is a smartphone-based manager for the Xbox One, and it gets some surprisingly frequent love from the developers for a product intended for a direct Google competitor. The latest beta version is a significant bump, 2.4 to 3.16, though the changes aren't immediately obvious beyond a few cosmetic adjustments. The new user interface moves quite a few elements around, and if it isn't completely "material" then at least Microsoft is trying to make it look like an Android app instead of a tiny Xbox window. Read More
Google and Microsoft, while not outright enemies, have been engaged in a number of public slap-fights over the years. After all: they're competitors, and Google competes with Microsoft in three areas where the company's fortunes have sharply declined (smartphones, the browser wars) or never really got off the ground to begin with (search).
Microsoft has even been engaged in lawsuits against Android and, under threat of legal action, extracted (and may continue to extract) royalties from companies that make Android devices. Microsoft also helped lead the charge in what was likely the impetus that eventually caused the European Commission to file antitrust charges against Google last week. Read More
Microsoft's OneDrive is a very credible alternative to Google Drive or Dropbox, and today it's getting even better, albeit in beta format. PDF editing support is now included, a very welcome addition, as well as a notification view to see who's commented or edited a file that has been shared with you.
The PDF annotation works very well - I was able to highlight, strikethrough, draw a textbox, comment, and scribble on a document with ease. The delete edit function can be a little finicky due to the fact that editing precise details on a touchscreen is hard, but once you've got the hang of it, there'll be no trouble. Read More
Microsoft is at it again. There's a new app under the developer's name on the Play Store, and both the description and name left us a little wondering. Aside from a cryptic name, Project "Madeira" isn't compatible with any of my devices — it's probably georestricted — and the sign-up page madeira.microsoft.com (uncovered by @walkingcat) doesn't seem to work for me.
But if you read the Play Store description and check the screenshots, you'll see that Madeira seems like an Office 365-integrated business management solution for small to medium companies. It should allow them to manage their stock inventory as well as their sales and purchases with different customers and vendors, create and share bills and quotes, and check their finances and performance. Read More
Microsoft's Build conference is about all the things happening in the company's wide range of products and services, but that includes Android apps these days. At Build yesterday, Microsoft announced there's a big change coming to one of its apps soon-ish. Microsoft plans to add notification mirroring support to Windows 10, and it's going to be powered on the Android side by Cortana. Read More
Microsoft has been steadily marching towards getting familiar desktop features onto their mobile apps. Most recently, that meant support for versioning, auto-save, and live collaboration. This time around, all three get the ability to export to PDF, something we take for granted when using the full versions of Office. They also get a new feature allowing users to insert images directly from your camera, which of course is a feature more unique to mobile. For its part, Microsoft Word for Android can now open RTF files, which falls into the "I didn't realize it couldn't already do that" category for many of us. Read More
Microsoft is rolling out big updates to all three of its major Office apps for Android, with several overlapping improvements. The highlight is the addition of auto-save, a staple on desktop versions and frankly overdue on mobile with so many more opportunities for lost connections, unexpected battery drains, and other interruptions. In the same vein, Word and Powerpoint get real-time collaborative editing support, similar to what is available in the web apps and Google Docs.
I took a test drive with the collaborative editing on Word and it wasn't exactly seamless. The browser version says I was editing while offline, which is a decent way to describe the way it worked. Read More
Microsoft's Work Folders, which is for organizational accounts, allows you to sync work files across devices and access them while offline. For important internal documents, having employees using their own computers and phones to access them is a bit of a security nightmare. Work Folders is a compromise, adding some more protection—and convenience—to allow people to work with potentially sensitive information that is stored on an organization's server.
While this feature is well-integrated into Windows (as you might have expected), this is its debut on Android. If you do not have an account with access via your employer, it won't do you any good; this is a subscribers-only feature set. Read More