Microsoft's recent cross-platform ideology has spread to iOS and Android, delivering high-quality services for rival mobile OSes.
Microsoft Outlook for iOS was originally not made by Microsoft itself. It's a mix of two acquisitions called Acompli and Sunrise Calendar respectively. These two apps were praised for their functionality and design, and Microsoft made the right choice to acquire them.
Outlook for iOS is an outstanding application. It's quick, functional and at times even outperforms the desktop Outlook application, depending on what you're doing. It features a "Focused Inbox" which helps you prioritize the content in your inbox and easily sort out the spam, advertisements or any less important email.
Outlook also features some other functions like plug-ins, allowing you to integrate services like Trello, OneDrive, Google Drive and DropBox integration and it works with every possible email provider you can throw at it. Outlook is getting constant updates and is probably the most polished Microsoft app you can find on iOS.
If you happen to own a Xbox One, the Xbox app may come in handy. It includes features like controlling your Xbox from the phone, messaging your Xbox Live friends, or simply editing your avatar right from the app.
The Xbox app brings a welcome surprise with it, as its design is very consistent with the one found on other platforms. It's fully featured, handy and even has push notifications for things like achievements or messages. The app has some downsides though, like being painfully slow, but aside from that, it's a very pleasant experience.
The best part is that you can even buy games directly from it, so you will never miss out on a good deal.
Last time we reviewed the Microsoft To-Do app, it was a buggy and unusable mess. This has changed since then. While it may not be the most functional app out there, it's a solid and stable performer which can boost your workflow a little depending on your needs.
Microsoft To-Do is very simple and straightforward, and while there is still a lot to improve on, it doesn't necessarily require a learning curve if you want to use it for simple lists.
Cortana, once a Windows Phone exclusive, is now available for iOS and Android.
The app is definitely pretty, but it doesn't end at that. Cortana's natural voice is accompanied by a huge set of features like setting reminders, answering complex questions both by voice and text and much more. The app is getting constant support and updates which introduce new features almost weekly.
The biggest downside with Cortana is that it's limited to a handful of countries. If you want to get the app outside of these countries, you'll have to make a new Apple ID which is bound to the UK, for example, or any other country that supports it.
The Office apps are very functional, to such point that it's impressive how effective you can be on the go. Word has full formatting and can open up any modern document you can think of, PowerPoint lets you create full presentations and even view them right on the device. If you happen to have a Lighting Port to HDMI adapter then you can even use your phone to display full presentations on the big screen. Excel is also a capable spreadsheet solution, but don't expect the full range of functions to be available due to the app's complexity on desktop.
The best part of these apps is that they are completely free as your iPhone is most likely under 10 inches and falls under the free Office 365 policy.
- Download Word from the App Store
- Download Excel from the App Store
- Download PowerPoint from the App Store
If you regularly sign into a Microsoft account, the company's own two-factor authenticator comes in handy. Instead of the usual six-digit code to log you in, Microsoft Authenticator lets you authorize the sign in the attempt with a simple tap, making the process much more convenient. You get direct notifications which where you can approve sign-in requests straight from your lock screen or notification center.
In addition to adding your Microsoft account, you can also add details for other services that are secured by two-factor authentication, including Google and Facebook, Discord and much more.
Microsoft's Word Flow keyboard is nice, sleek, fast and very, very accurate. In fact, it offers the best typing experience I have ever seen. As the Word Flow keyboard from Windows Phone was known for the "swipe input," this is also available on the iOS version.
Word Flow also offers a lot of customization options where you can change the theme from dark to light, add a background to the keyboard or simply make your completely own and unique theme. The biggest shortcoming must be the "English only" support with no indication of more languages coming anytime soon.
For more details, check out our in-depth review.
SwiftKey is yet another keyboard from Microsoft. It is not in-house and has been acquired after a few years of working on its own, but it's definitely still getting updated and improved regularly.
The keyboard is very customizable with a ton of different themes and settings you can use. The latest update even added two new themes based on the Apple Human Interface design which makes the keyboard blend into the system much better. It supports "swipe input" and is very accurate too.
SwiftKey nicely integrates with different social services like Facebook, Google, your contact book and more, giving you suggestions perfect personalized for you and with content specifically from your own accounts. This means that the keyboard will know what your co-worker's email address is and what your mom's home address is as well when you need it.
OneNote recently received a major overhaul on all platforms, revamping the color scheme and improving the UI.
The OneNote app is a very powerful note taking app which allows you to do everything from basic lists to scheduled reminders. It syncs all your data through the cloud and apps it looks and feels the same as it does on other platforms, giving you a consistent and pleasant experience.
Bonus: Skype Preview
Skype Preview is an invite-only beta testing app. It recently got a completely redesigned interface with many new features and options. The app is part of the new Skype experience that was announced recently and is a completely new direction for Skype as a service. The new version seems to lack Cortana integration which was present a few builds ago, but that may come back at a later point or, hopefully, before the global release.
The changes that we can see in the app will at some point make its way to all users using the regular Skype app. The regular app is fairly decent at this point and does the job pretty well, so you're not missing out on actual stability. Video calls work as expected, messages do too, and some of the features introduced with the new version are also present and backported for current users.
There is no specific timeframe in which we will see the major update roll out to current users, but based on the progress Microsft has done with the app, you should expect it at any time.
What Microsoft apps do you use on your iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.
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