Microsoft finally released a mobile app for iPhone called Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers. What a mouthful. It’s too bad they put more into the name than into the app. Office Mobile can’t compete with the third-party vendors that make awesome Microsoft Office compatible tools. We don’t think anyone should pay to become an Office 365 subscriber just for the mobile app.
With such a pitiful offering, we assume Microsoft intends Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers as a document viewer, providing only rudimentary editing features. After our short test, we’d only recommend Office Mobile to people who already subscribe to Office 365. Even then, we can find better options.
What is Office 365
Office 365 Home Premium, the version most users would buy, includes the following in addition to access to the mobile app:
- Office on up to five computers
- 20GB of SkyDrive, 15GB more than a free SkyDrive account
- Online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
- Computer versions of those apps plus Access, Outlook and Publishers
- 60 minutes of Skype calling/month
This seems like a lot compared to buying five copies of Office and paying for 20GB of storage. However, many people already own Office. Some get it through work or it came with their computer. Some don’t need five copies.
The mobile app doesn’t offer enough incentive to pay $10/month or $100/year for Office 365 considering how much users don’t get.
- No PowerPoint file creation
- Extremely limited document creation tools
- Little to no formatting tools
- No iPad version yet
Ways to Get Office 365 Functions Without the App
The only compelling feature included with the Office Mobile app is sync with SkyDrive. Microsoft offers a free iOS app already that lets users access their SkyDrive files. Use it to open files in other iOS apps that offer better editing features. However, we think the following online storage an sync service make more sense and offer more flexibility than Skydrive. In each case the user gets more storage for less than they pay for Office 365 and they can use better apps on iPhone and iPad.
- SugarSync – 60GB for $75/year
- DropBox – 100GB for $100/year
- Box – 25GB for $10/month
- Google Drive – 100GB for $5/month
With each of these services, install a sync client on the computer and on the iPhone, iPad or Android. Start saving files from a computer to the synced folders on the computer. Open the mobile app and then find the file to edit or view on the smart phone or tablet. Use the iOS Open In or Android sharing feature to open the document in one of the great office compatible apps available on both platforms. Edit the files and then save them back to these services. Many of the office compatible apps let users save directly to one or more of these services. This gives users the full Office 365 experience with a far better, cheaper and more flexible solution.
Conclusion: Don’t sign up for Office 365 just use Office Mobile for Office 365 subscriber.