Microsoft brings Office Mobile to Android smartphones – not tablets

1 Aug 2013

Microsoft has just released an Android app for Office Mobile, widening the reach of its pared-down access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint specifically tailored for the small screen.

Office Mobile for Android is free to download on Google Play, but only users with Office 365 subscription plans that include Office Mobile will be able to use it, on up to five devices. (Excluding Windows Phone handsets, that is. These come preloaded with Office Mobile and don’t count towards your mobile device limit.)

While the optimum Office experience remains on Windows devices, the new app will give Android users easier access to documents on the fly. Office Mobile isn’t really built for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations, more so for reviewing, editing  and sharing files when away from a desktop computer.

By syncing with SkyDrive (or whatever it will be called in future) users will be able to pick up where they left off and easily find files they recently accessed.

Office Mobile for iOS was released in June but with no support for the iPad, and the same is true for the Android version in that tablets aren’t compatible. For these users, Microsoft recommends Office Web Apps so that Office Mobile can focus on optimising the experience for small screens only, while full access to Office is, of course, reserved for its own large-screen devices, be they tablets, ultrabooks or hybrids. Windows Phone 8 also has the advantage for the mobile experience, with the ability to save files locally and search and filter documents, plus some other additional features.

Unlike its iOS counterpart, Office Mobile for Android does not give users the option to purchase an Office 365 subscription in-app. It requires Android 4.0 or higher and will be available in 117 markets and 33 languages over the coming weeks.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic