Android App Review: Microsoft Office for Android

One of the most long awaited lawyer tools is finally here in preview final form. Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Office for Android tablets, opened the apps for preview, and now they’re available for download.

Every Android lawyer’s dream come true

The first thing to know about Microsoft Office for Android is that it’s not Android 5.0, Lollipop, compatible. For most people, this won’t be an issue, since many manufacturers won’t push Android 5.0 tablet updates for awhile. But I’m giving you a fair warning since I couldn’t test these apps on my Nexus 7.

MS Word Preview A 5

Obligatory warning out of the way, if you’re a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint user, these Android apps will feel very familiar from the start. And truthfully, if Microsoft would have put this much effort into creating a good product 3 years ago, nobody would look for alternative options and Google Docs would have vanished as an afterthought.

Microsoft is giving Android users a viable way to connect with the cloud, collaborate, and use a familiar tool to be productive. Microsoft’s Android apps connect to your OneDrive storage. OneDrive gives you access to your files from anywhere. You can sign up here.

But you also don’t have to worry about just using OneDrive since Word, PowerPoint, and Excel will each link to your Dropbox storage as well.

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And best of all, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are free.

Microsoft Word for Tablet

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Microsoft Word works exactly how you’d expect a word processing program to work. I was thankful that Microsoft retained many of the familiar features of the desktop program. (Excel and PowerPoint each behave similarly, so I won’t spend too much time below discussing some of these basic features.)

Microsoft Word is packed with a variety of templates to help get you started on document creation.

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These templates are accessible directly from the home screen. Of course, you can always create a blank document or open one from another location.

I know a lot of Word users who love the track changes feature, so don’t worry, that’s there, too.

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Basically, Microsoft’s mantra — and it’s a good one — with Office for Android, is that if the function works on the desktop, it should work on a tablet. Essentially, Microsoft does a very good job of bringing its OneDrive version of Microsoft Word to Android.

This Word preview wasn’t without kinks though (even though I’m gushing with enthusiasm and Microsoft love). Word (and Excel and PowerPoint) is a huge file (352mb), and the program is definitely resource intensive. I tested the app on 3 different devices — 2 tablets and 1 phone — and noticed significant lag when I tried to multitask. I expect developers to fix some of the slowness as they receive beta usage data.

The bigger issue though is that I could barely edit a document because of the onscreen keyboard.

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If you’re one who likes to see a couple paragraphs before and the empty space below, kiss it goodbye. As you can see, I got a one line preview. I killed the keyboard glut by connecting my Bluetooth keyboard, but this is an issue you need to know about. You could also rotate the tablet into portrait mode and you’ll have plenty of space.

Microsoft Word definitely looks good, and this app might finally make the Google-loving Droid Lawyer a Microsoft fan again.

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Get this app on Google Play

Microsoft Excel for Tablet

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I don’t utilize Excel nearly enough. I know attorneys (and others) who live and die by their spreadsheets. Google Sheets is decent, but nowhere near as powerful as the real thing. If you’re an Excel fan, Excel for Android will have you drooling at the future.

Excel for Android gives you a fanfare of formulas, functions, calculations, and graphs. Once again, if you can do it on your desktop, you can do it on your tablet.

The Excel preview is slightly clunky, and we have keyboard issues, but if you’re frustrated about trying to make some other program workable you’ll find hope in Excel for Android.

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Get this app on Google Play

Microsoft PowerPoint for Tablet

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PowerPoint is probably my most-desired Android app. Sure, I love working in Word, but I can accomplish just as much with Docs. Unfortunately, Google Slides isn’t nearly as nice as Microsoft PowerPoint.

The PowerPoint app gives you the ability to create slideshows, add intricate transitions, and present directly from your mobile device. With all of the available features, PowerPoint is certainly a great addition to the Android app arsenal.

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Get this app on Google Play

The future of document creation

Microsoft won’t release the apps until early 2015. Until then, you can try to get in on the beta test and preview.  The final official releases are now available.

Lawyers limping along trying to make whatever app work well when compared to Microsoft Office can end their frustration. Microsoft Office for Android sets the new standard for document creation on a mobile device.

1-29-15 Updated links to the final release candidates and added/removed preview language.

4 Responses to Android App Review: Microsoft Office for Android

  1. Hey Jeff thanks for the review. I assume this is not the Microsoft Office Mobile app that is currently available in the Google Play store.
    Also, I was going to try it out on my Galaxy SIII phone, but when I made my way to the Microsoft beta sign-up site, it advises that you must install it on a screen that is within 7″-10.1″. How did you test it on your phone?

  2. Compare Microsoft’s Office apps with those new ones of SoftMaker (only for Android: PlanMaker HD, TextMaker HD, and Presentations HD, all three available as free beta versions in Google Play Store). Microsoft Office Mobile includes not many features, it’s more or less a better viewer with very limited editing and formatting options. SoftMaker Office HD, on the other hand, provides the complete range of functions users would expect in a desktop suite, I also prefer its user interface, it offers access to more cloud services and the option to save locally, and btw., it’s sewamlessly compatible with Word/Excel/PowerPoint formats of all kind. To make it short: it might be less known yet, but after all it’s much better!

    • I’ve tried all of the options. They’re good. I think lawyers will probably stick with Office because it’s familiar and safe. Plus, not having to worry about proper format is great.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.