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. While it's still not quite as easy as adding or editing a table on a desktop computer, Microsoft has significantly improved the experience here. Good work.

The other major change is 'quick access commands.' Basically, these appear when text is highlighted, similar to a contextual app bar. It has 'smart lookup' on, which searches the highlighted word or phrase, a select all button, cut, copy, and paste, and more paste commands under an arrow menu. In my testing, I found that paste was a little buggy - whatever I pasted into the document took a little while to appear, even though the app registered the text as actually there (it would Bing search it using smart lookup, for example).

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Left: the improved table experience, with the bigger cells and resize handle. Right: quick access commands, showing cut, copy, paste, extra paste options, select all, and smart lookup.


Powerpoint has received a few usability updates as well. Superscript and subscript formatting are now here (under 'font formatting'), which is nice, and text can now be separated into columns with the tap of a button. What it doesn't say in the changelog, though, is the column feature is exclusive to Office 365; as I don't have a subscription, I can't test this one out. Thanks, Microsoft. It's also got the quick access commands, which will undoubtedly come in handy when creating presentations and other Powerpoint-y things, with 'copy formatting' taking the place of smart lookup in Word.

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LeftThe font formatting options, showing superscript. Right: Powerpoint's quick access commands.


Like the ugly step duckling, Excel's been left out in the cold, receiving the least new features in the update today. The changelog tells us the app can now open .CSV files (yaaay...), although they open as read-only files - saving into .XSLX is required for editing. However, there is one other thing Microsoft neglected to mention: quick access commands have come to Excel as well, with 'new line' taking the place of smart lookup or copy formatting.

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Left: a .CSV file, opened in read-only. Right: quick access commands in Excel.

No earth shattering changes, but just gradual improvement to Microsoft's mobile office suite. With apps like these on the Android platform, I'm starting to feel like I could use Android as my day-to-day OS. Anyway: download links are above, go grab 'em.