Microsoft may have its fitness platform and wearable device, but that isn’t stopping the company from getting out first-class support for Apple Watch. Over the last week Microsoft has launched a few new dedicated experiences ahead of the Apple Watch release date.
Microsoft updated its OneDrive cloud storage app last week with light Apple Watch support. The company then followed that update with a new version of its PowerPoint app that includes its own dedicated Apple Watch experience.
The PowerPoint support for Apple Watch is what’s attracting the most attention this morning. With PowerPoint for iPhone and iPad version 1.8 users can turn their Apple Watch into a dedicated presentation remote. The release notes for the app in the iTunes App Store indicate that users can start their slideshows and presentation directly on their Apple Watch as well as manage what slides they are on. PowerPoint for Apple watch also includes a breakdown of where users are in their slideshow and how much time they have left before needing to end their presentation.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service, which one might assume wouldn’t lend itself very well to the Apple Watch experience. Microsoft isn’t trying to stick a file browser for OneDrive on the Apple Watch. Instead, it’s concentrating its early efforts on extending the OneDrive photos experience to the Apple Watch in a big way.
OneDrive version 5.3 lets Apple Watch owners look at the pictures they’ve recently uploaded to OneDrive through the Camera Roll feature on their iPhone. Browsing photos by tags and albums is possible. OneDrive for Apple watch also allows users to delete photos they aren’t fond of without pulling their iPhone out of their pocket.
Both apps are available immediately as updates to the main apps available for iPhone users. PowerPoint and OneDrive are completely free, though users who want more storage or some advanced features might want to purchase a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service. Office 365 gets users 1TB of storage, unlocked Office access on up to 5 mobile devices and 5 PCs or Macs. The family oriented Office 365 subscription costs $99.99 a year or $9.99 a month. A cheaper Office 365 subscription for just a single PC costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.
Microsoft decision to arrive early in the Apple Watch life cycle with its own experiences is a sign that its learned it’s lesson from past adventures. It wasn’t until last year that Microsoft had a first-class iPad experience for its Office suite of productivity apps. Previously the company held the apps back, hopping to use them as lures for its own Windows Phone and Windows platforms. Apple Watch is the first wearable from the same company that created the iPhone and iPad; it’s almost guaranteed to be an early success. Missing out on that wouldn’t have made sense.
All of this isn’t to say that Microsoft doesn’t clearly have dreams of competing directly with the Apple Watch. Ahead of the Apple Watch announcement last year Microsoft announced the Microsoft Band, a wearable fitness band that works with the iPhone, Android and Windows phones. It’s loaded with tons of sensors and lets users install some fairly basic apps. The sensors and companion app let it track workouts, reply to text messages and monitor emails. It also includes support for Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant.
Whether the Microsoft Band actually has a chance as a legitimate competitor to the Apple Watch remains unclear, but potential buyers won’t have to wait long to find out. Pre-ordered Apple Watches should begin arriving on doorsteps this Friday, April 24th. The Apple Watch is available for users to try on in Apple’s retail stores now ahead of the release.
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