Of­fice for iPad:

Merg­ing the Mi­crosoft & iOS Ex­pe­ri­ence

iPhone Life Magazine - - Gear Guide - by Dan Ras­mus

Ev­ery­one knows Mi­crosoft Of­fice. It’s a stan­dard for stu­dents, cor­po­ra­tions, and gov­ern­ments. And while it is popular for its well-known of­fice suite, it has also been ac­cused of be­ing dys­func­tional and frus­trat­ing to use. Whether you love it or hate it, though, you prob­a­bly use Of­fice for some­thing al­most ev­ery day.

Un­til re­cently, how­ever, you were at a dis­ad­van­tage if you were an Of­fice user with an iPad, as the soft­ware didn’t run on iOS. This cre­ated a mar­ket for apps like Quick­Of­fice, the now-demised Of­fice em­u­la­tor that was gut­ted af­ter its ac­qui­si­tion by Google. Some turned to LogMeIn, CloudOn, or Par­al­lels to ac­cess Of­fice through an iOS app.

While Mi­crosoft Of­fice is still a house­hold name—the soft­ware has roughly one bil­lion users around the world, af­ter all—its March re­lease of Of­fice for the iPad has been an im­por­tant devel­op­ment in keep­ing the com­pany rel­e­vant in the mo­bile mar­ket­place.

Of­fice for iPad is a well-de­signed set of touch-friendly apps that ri­val the best iOS has to of­fer, let­ting you view, cre­ate, edit, and print doc­u­ments di­rectly from your tablet. As for func­tion­al­ity, it doesn’t do ev­ery­thing tra­di­tional Of­fice does, but it does of­fer fea­ture-rich ver­sions of Word, Excel, and Pow­er­Point. You can down­load and view doc­u­ments for free with each app, but you’ll need an Of­fice 365 sub­scrip­tion, which costs $99 a year, to edit or cre­ate doc­u­ments. The sub­scrip­tion gives you the abil­ity to in­stall the soft­ware on a hand­ful of mo­bile de­vices, desk­tops, and lap­tops, and lets you store your doc­u­ments in the cloud. Af­ter years of un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts at mov­ing Of­fice to mo­bile, Of­fice 365 is fi­nally be­gin­ning to look like an el­e­gant, well-priced op­tion.

Be­hind the De­sign

“Of­fice for iPad’s de­sign manager Han-Yi Shaw faced an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge: to cre­ate an app that was not only un­mis­tak­ably Mi­crosoft, but that also worked seam­lessly with the iOS ex­pe­ri­ence.”

I had the op­por­tu­nity to talk with the de­sign manager of Of­fice for iPad, Han-Yi Shaw, who faced an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge: to cre­ate an app that was not only un­mis­tak­ably Mi­crosoft, but that also worked seam­lessly with the iOS ex­pe­ri­ence.

Shaw set de­sign goals with his team to make Of­fice for iPad so easy to use that it didn’t re­quire a learn­ing curve— even though it was on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent plat­form, with limited screen space and no key­board, mouse, or abil­ity to right-click. iPhone Life: How im­por­tant is the suc­cess of Of­fice for iPad to Mi­crosoft's fu­ture as a com­pany? Han-Yi Shaw: The im­por­tance of Of­fice for iPad can­not be un­der­stated—it rep­re­sents a ground­break­ing prod­uct that is at the heart of our com­pany’s mo­bilefirst and cloud-first strat­egy. Over one bil­lion peo­ple use Of­fice ev­ery day, and they want an au­then­tic Of­fice ex­pe­ri­ence on their de­vice of choice. Of­fice for iPad ex­em­pli­fies our abil­ity to de­liver this un­mis­tak­able Of­fice ex­pe­ri­ence that is reimag­ined for touch and op­ti­mized for iPad. iPL: What has been users’ re­sponse to the app? Shaw: Feed­back from users and re­view­ers has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive. We’ve seen over 35 mil­lion down­loads of the Of­fice for iPad apps, so it’s clear that cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate the tou­chop­ti­mized pro­duc­tiv­ity so­lu­tion we’ve de­signed. This num­ber is the driv­ing force be­hind our faster-than-ever cadence of new up­dates. Speak­ing of which, Of­fice for iPad rep­re­sents an­other ma­jor shift in our prod­uct up­date strat­egy. No longer do users have to wait for years for up­dates. For ex­am­ple, in less than one month of our launch of Of­fice for iPad, we de­liv­ered the most re­quested fea­ture: print­ing. iPL: Why did Mi­crosoft cre­ate sep­a­rate apps for the iPad from Mi­crosoft Of­fice Mo­bile for iPhone? What are the dif­fer­ences be­tween the apps? Shaw: Of­fice for iPad rep­re­sented a new prod­uct cat­e­gory. We could cre­ate a richer cre­ation and edit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a big­ger can­vas. Of­fice Mo­bile for iPhone, on the other hand, is op­ti­mized for easy file ac­cess and light­weight edit­ing in a man­ner that is con­sis­tent across Win­dows Phone, An­droid, and iPhone. iPL: What fea­tures did you work the hard­est to make avail­able on Of­fice for iPad? Shaw: Th­ese apps were built from the ground up for iPad. We worked hard to cre­ate real iPad apps that sup­port Of­fice file for­mats rather than de­liv­er­ing stripped down or mi­grated apps. Get­ting the user in­ter­face right was crit­i­cal, as was designing the apps to dy­nam­i­cally adapt to con­stantly chang­ing screen size and ori­en­ta­tion. iPL: What were the big­gest chal­lenges you faced? Shaw: We had to bal­ance cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions of Of­fice on Win­dows or Mac with what we thought would be the best ap­proach to de­liv­er­ing a tou­chop­ti­mized tablet ex­pe­ri­ence. Not wor­ry­ing about le­gacy ap­pli­ca­tions meant designing from scratch, which was ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing. iPL: You said you aimed to have no learn­ing curve with the iPad apps. How did you achieve this, even though you were mov­ing the soft­ware to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent plat­form? Shaw: If you look at the apps [Word, Excel, and Pow­er­Point], they re­tain the ba­sic or­ga­ni­za­tion of Mi­crosoft Of­fice ap­pli­ca­tions. The menus still feel familiar but re­main in­tu­itively iOS in na­ture (like the shar­ing fea­ture). We think this bal­ance helps users quickly adapt to Of­fice for iPad. It’s about find­ing the sweet spot be­tween be­ing plat­formap­pro­pri­ate and un­mis­tak­ably Mi­crosoft. iPL: What fea­tures didn't make it to Of­fice for iPad that you'd like to add in the fu­ture? Shaw: We can’t talk fu­ture fea­tures. What I can say is that as we con­tinue to de­velop the prod­uct, we are closely lis­ten­ing to our cus­tomers to help us pri­or­i­tize what comes next. I hope our fast se­quence of up­dates demon­strates this com­mit­ment. As noted ear­lier, print­ing ca­pa­bil­ity was miss­ing from the ini­tial re­lease, and we de­liv­ered it one month later. In July, we re­leased yet an­other big up­date, in which we added the abil­ity to ex­port files as PDFs in Word, Excel, and Pow­er­Point. We also added new pic­ture-edit­ing tools as well as sup­port for third-party fonts. In Pow­er­Point, we added Pre­sen­ter View for pro­ject­ing, as well as au­dio and video play­back and the abil­ity to in­sert me­dia. In Excel, we im­proved the way you in­ter­act with data by en­hanc­ing pivot ta­ble in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. We also added new print and scal­ing op­tions, en­hanced ex­ter­nal key­board sup­port, and im­ple­mented a new touch-first flick ges­ture which makes se­lect­ing data on your iPad much eas­ier.

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