Microsoft refreshes Office for iPad, iPhone; more features now free for consumers

Microsoft is making available new versions of its Office apps for iPads and iPhones, and is making more of the core Office functionality available for free to consumers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is releasing updated versions of its Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for iPad and iPhones that make more of the core functionality available for free.

Word for iPhone

The new Office for iPad and iPhone apps will be available starting November 6 in the Apple App Store. The new Office for iPad apps will be available here. Word for iPhone, Excel for iPhone and PowerPoint for iPhone are available separately.

To date, without an Office 365 subscription, Office for iPad users could view documents, copy and paste between documents, share via attachments, and present using PowerPoint. To create new documents, edit and format them, save to OneDrive or SharePoint, they were required to pay for an Office 365 subscription.

Following many users' requests that the apps be made free, Microsoft is compromising and making more — but not all — of the core Office functionality free to consumers.

Users will be able to create and do more advanced editing of Office content without an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription starting today. 

Business users will still need an Office 365 subscription to use features such as Excel pivot tables, PowerPoint presenter mode and customizations around color and design. And anyone who wants the unlimited OneDrive storage will still have to subscribe to Office 365 to get it.

CNET: Office for iOS goes freemium: What you need to know

On the iPhone front, Microsoft is dismantling the Office Mobile hub experience and replacing it with new standalone Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for iPhone. These iPhone Office apps have functional parity with the iPad versions, though the user interface is different, as the iPhone versions are tailored for a smartphone form factor.

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(Microsoft is planning to build similar "universal" versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android phones and Windows Phones, officials said, but declined to provide release timing.)

On the iPhone, Microsoft has added a couple of new views meant to make navigating and editing Office documents easier. There's a new "Reflow" view for Word that eliminates the need for panning and scanning, as it temporarily enlarges and sizes documents to fit on the phone screen. And there's a similar "Full Screen" view in Excel for iPhone. These views won't be part of the iPad Office apps.

Also see: Microsoft Office on Android biggest challenge: Uprooting Google DocsMicrosoft kicks off its Office for Android tablets preview | New Office for iPhone: Feature packed, but smaller displays still suffer (first take)

For those consumers who subscribed because they only wanted to do core editing and didn’t want advanced editing and document creation, Microsoft will offer a pro-rated Office 365 refund.  (I'll add a link to this post with the details once I receive it from Microsoft.)

Update: Here's how to get that refund if you only wanted the core features you now can get for free.

The new Office for iPad and Office for iPhone apps are available beginning today in 29 languages and 136 countries. The apps require an iPad or iPhone running iOS 7.0 or later.

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