Once upon a time, you could view and edit Google Docs files from a single Drive app, but Google later split them up into multiple editing applications. Microsoft is now doing the reverse: it's combining the Android versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one app to rule them all.
Microsoft began testing a combined Office app in early 2019, and released a public preview in November. However, the beta program seemingly reverted to private testing after that point (though APKs kept trickling in on APKMirror), and now the app has left testing entirely.
The new Office application allows you to browse your OneDrive files, and edit any Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents without opening any separate tools. It also synchronizes with the Windows 10 notes application and includes a variation of the Office Lens scanner. Finally, there's a QR code reader, in case you need one of those for whatever reason.
Unfortunately, there's one major caveat to this new Office app: there is no support for tablets or Chromebooks whatsoever. While the existing Word, PowerPoint, and Excel apps work very well on large-screen devices, including Chromebooks, the new app is locked to portrait mode and has no tablet-specific UI.
The new Office app on an Android tablet
We've reached out to Microsoft to ask if tablet support is coming. It's also not clear if the separate Office applications will be discontinued at some point, in favor of the new combined app. If that does happen, I hope it's not before all the old functionality is ported over.
Microsoft told us the company "has nothing to share at this time" about tablet support or discontinuing the existing applications.
Microsoft officially announced the combined Office app today, so yesterday's Android release was likely jumping the gun a little bit.
There are a few minor new additions to the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint components that weren't previously known:
- Word Dictation: Let Word turn your voice into written text and use voice commands and simple toolbars to easily apply the right formatting and punctuation you need.
- Excel Cards View: View and edit data in an Excel table row in a simple, digestible card format so you do not have to span across columns that extend beyond the limits of the screen.
- Outline to PowerPoint: Write your presentation content as a simple outline and let PowerPoint Designer turn it into presentable slides with the proper styling, formatting, and iconography of your content.
Also, Microsoft told The Verge that a "fully optimized tablet experience will be available on both iPadOS and Android soon," so tablet users can rest easy.