Microsoft rolls out touch-first Office apps preview for Android phones

Microsoft is rolling out test versions of its standalone, touch-first Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android phones.

Microsoft is making available for Android phones public previews of its promised standalone touch versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

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Available starting today, May 19, these apps are the replacement for the Office Mobile hub on Android.

The new Office for Android phone preview apps are similar to the touch-first Office apps preview for Windows phones that Microsoft made available to testers last week. (In fact, the Android and Windows Phone versions of these apps share a lot of the same underlying code, Microsoft officials have said.)

Microsoft delivered a public preview of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android tablets in November 2014, and made Office on Android tablets generally available in January 2015. Microsoft released updated versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android tablets on May 5. These updated apps support Intel chipsets natively and also support Android Lollipop.

The new Office app previews for Android phones require Android KitKat 4.4.x or higher and devices with 1 GB of RAM or more.

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There are a few hoops through which Android phone users need to jump in order to test the new preview Office apps:

Office Desktop apps are for professional content creation, sophisticated authoring, data analysis, visualization, and similar tasks where users need precision control of the keyboard and mouse, Microsoft execs have said. The Desktop apps will be fully featured and support advanced functionality like macros.

The Office mobile/touch-first apps, which won't include all the Office Desktop bells and whistles, are more about on-the-go mobile productivity, where there can be some content-creation happening, but where users are likely more focused on content absorption and communication, Microsoft officials have said.

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