Updated February 6, 2020: This post has been updated to reflect feature parity between the separate versions of Office and the new Office app.
Microsoft released a new Office app on Android recently. The app was in preview testing for months, but the first time I spent any real time with it was today.
The app brings Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Sticky Notes into a single application. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are all still available separately, but I prefer the new Office app over using Microsoft's separately. Here's why this new app is perfect for me.
Less is more, or at least enough
Having fewer apps to deal with is a welcome change when it comes to using Office on the go. Microsoft states that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint within the new Office share all the same features as their separated siblings, but simply having fewer apps to deal with makes a big difference to me.
It's worth pointing out that while Microsoft states that the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps are at feature parity with the separated app that there are some Office feature missing from the new Office app. For example, Sticky Notes within the new Office app doesn't work with OneNote, as pointed out by Engadget.
I don't use Office on the go to do heavy-duty work. I use Office frequently to manage an American football team I coach. I track our budget and depth charts in Excel, I create our fundraising documents in Word, and PowerPoint is there if I need to make a presentation for a school or organization I'm building a partnership with. I'm by no means a power user, but I am a frequent user. This new Office has all the features that I need on my phone, plus, it has other benefits.
For my everyday workload, the new Office app is perfect.
Some of Microsoft's popular mobile tools are built right into the app. You can share files with nearby phones, transfer files between your phone and PC, scan images into text, and scan tables into Excel spreadsheets. It also takes advantage of a phone's touch capabilities, so you can sign documents and their cameras by letting you scan QR codes.
For my everyday workload, the new Office app has every Office feature I use in a single app and adds features I'd usually have to jump between apps to use.
I don't view Office as separate apps
Using the new Office app highlights the fact that I don't view Office apps separately, or at least I don't when I have an alternative. My budget spreadsheets for the team feel like they're in the same area of my brain as any other Office service I use. In this context, jumping between apps doesn't really make sense.
I know it doesn't take that long to switch between apps, especially as Android gestures get better and devices manage multiple apps better, but I still prefer this unified approach. Now, when I come home from practice, I can tackle — get it, tackle — more of my tasks without jumping between apps.
However, while the new Office app provides a simple and unified approach to using Office services on a phone, I'm glad that the dedicated apps are still around. My workflow isn't your workflow. You might need a feature that's not available in the unified Office app when you're on your phone, such as OneNote integration. You might use DeX or a similar feature to project your screen onto a larger display. In that case, you'll probably want a dedicated app.
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