The new app delivers a more streamlined Office 365 mobile experience.
By Christian Wilmot, Client Technical Manager – EMEA
This month we are looking at the Microsoft Office mobile app. A silent but colossal game changer when working with Office 365 on iOS and Android devices.
With the expansion of cloud services, the demand for on-the-go secure access to corporate data has grown. And the Office mobile apps have been at the forefront, providing on the go access to Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and other apps across a plethora of devices.
However, document hand-offs between the Office mobile apps have been a challenging experience at best and, at times, excruciating. For example, the regular app switching, or when tapping to edit a document in OneDrive, being sent to the Word app only to find the document has not opened and having to switch back to OneDrive. Argh!
Access to the individual Office apps on mobile devices is excellent for alternative investment organizations that want to supply access only to specific applications via Intune. And when combined with conditional access security policies, Office 365 administrators have granular control but can sometimes result in a bloated company portal and complex user experience.
The Future of Mobile Office…
But now, another Microsoft mobile app has emerged. A Microsoft app forged in the deepest depths of Redmond (USA) with the sole purpose of transforming Office 365 mobile working forever. One app to replace them all… well, most of them anyway.
It is a mobile app that has snuck into the iOS and Android app stores with extraordinarily little fanfare. An app that reminds me of the late Steve Jobs’ words when describing iTunes on Windows. This, for me, perfectly sums up the new Office mobile app when working with the many and at times clunky Office 365 apps on mobile devices. ‘It’s like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell’. And the mobile app, which I believe is an absolute game-changer in the Office 365 mobile working field, is called… wait for it… Office.
So, how does the Office mobile app differ from the other independent apps that make up the Office suite?
Well, for starters, the app aggregates the functionality of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, SharePoint and Forms into a single streamlined app. And if that isn’t enough, it also provides an array of practical features, particularly for alternative investment managers who need access around the clock.
Read more: Dive deep into Microsoft Planner.
OneDrive Look & Feel
When you first open the Office mobile app, you will notice the OneDrive centric feel. Thumbnails of frequently accessed documents are along the top with recently accessed files in a clear and scrollable list below. There is also a helpful folder tab in the top right-hand corner, which navigates to OneDrive and SharePoint, allowing navigation through your entire folder structures. So, there is no need to switch to the OneDrive or SharePoint Online mobile apps off the bat. Great!
Word Processing Made Easy
The Office app also provides editing functionality. For example, opening a Word document and tapping a sentence brings up the keyboard. And the microphone button, which offers transcription, works remarkable well. One of the best features is Read Aloud, which is baked right into the Office app. Tap the menu button, select Read Aloud, and the audio controls will appear, turning a lengthy word document into a personalized audiobook to listen to on the commute home. Asset managers who already use the independent Word app might think, ‘this is nothing new; all these features exist in the Word app.’ And you would be correct, but word processing in the Office app is a far richer experience and a lot more stable and convenient.
Tap, Tap, Create!
When tapping the plus button at the bottom of the home screen, you will notice the ability to create new documents and forms, which save directly into OneDrive or SharePoint. Again, some might think, big deal, but the simplicity and lack of app switching is excellent, which saves alternative investment managers time while also ensuring secure environments.
Who needs Apple Notes when you’ve got Sticky Notes?
For those that are familiar with Apple Notes, I would recommend trying the Microsoft sticky notes feature. This simple plain text editor is built into the Office app for ease of access and can be organized in OneNote.
Office Lens, the perfect photoshoot for your paperwork…
For the Office 365 veterans, Office Lens has been around for years. And when it was integrated into the OneDrive mobile app many moons ago, it was a feature I extensively used. For those who have not used it, in short, it allows you to take a picture of a document and, via software imaging, flattens the image, converts it to PDF and saves it to OneDrive. A fantastic tool for asset managers to easily track expenses, receipts, and invoices. And built into the Office mobile app for ease of use and access!
Office Actions are fantastic, and this tab I can only see expanding in functionality over the coming years. I will not go into each in detail and instead provide an overview.
Share Files – For those familiar with AirDrop on Apple devices, this feature provides similar functionality and allows you to pair the Office app and mobile device via Bluetooth to a laptop and send and receive documents up to 30MB. Perfect for moving a large image or video between devices.
Do More with PDFs – This collection of features, though it is in the initial stages, are excellent. From here, alternative investment managers can sign PDFs by scribbling a signature on the screen, streamlining approval processes. Of course, it does not provide the in-depth audit trails of products like DocuSign, but the functionality is great. It also allows the conversion of PDF documents to Word, a brilliant feature that works surprisingly well.
Simple and Secure
For organizations that use Intune for centralized Mobile Device Management, the Office mobile app can slip right into the company portal. It supports conditional access security policies, ensuring a consistent user experience across Office 365 and app protection policies, allowing the app to function in a containerized environment on mobile devices to secure corporate data. These security features are particularly relevant for alternative investment firms that are facing increased cybersecurity threats.
The Office mobile app is an excellent addition to the Microsoft mobile app offering. It provides a feature-rich environment, cutting down on application switching. It is the perfect tool for alternative investment firms that want to equip their workforce with a more streamlined Office 365 mobile experience. Since installing the Office mobile app, I’ve found myself working from my iPad and iPhone more, editing documents I would typically wait until I was in front of my laptop to work on.
So if you have not tried it yet, download the app today!