Aaron Wilson is a senior program manager on the Office for iPad team.
Hi all – I want to let you know that our whole team is excited to see how much people enjoy using the Office for iPad apps. Our goal was to create an experience that allows people to get things done in an intuitively familiar way on the iPad. We spent a lot of time polishing experiences that we know are important from years of working with, and listening to, people just like you.
Since launch, I’ve chatted with a few friends who haven’t explored Office for iPad and currently use Google’s productivity apps on the iPad. I’ve explained how Office for iPad makes doing work so much more enjoyable than it is with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets or Quickoffice on iPad, and I think this blog provides an ideal platform to share that story.
Google Drive, specifically, falls far short of Office for iPad. The apps incorporated into Drive don’t let you edit Office documents unless you convert them to Google’s native file format, which often results in formatting havoc across your documents. Drive’s web-based experience doesn’t feel natural on the iPad and isn’t optimized for touch, which makes it difficult to complete basic scenarios like selecting cells, sorting data and formatting your documents. Additionally, users of the recent release of Google Docs and Sheets quickly discovered that the apps are basically just a repackaging of existing Google Drive functionality. Quickoffice does address some of these issues by providing native iPad productivity support, but we believe it falls far short of what you should expect in a seamless productivity experience.
My goal in sharing this blog is to explain some of the key ways that Office for iPad can help you do great work, especially when compared with Quickoffice. As you read, please remember that this is only the beginning for Office for iPad. We’ve got an awesome roadmap, and the experiences are only going to get better. I hope the list below gives you a few reasons to give Office for iPad a try.
Documents that look like…your documents.
When I create or send an Office document to a colleague, I want it to look perfect. Office for iPad apps show your Office tables, pictures, charts and formatting as you’d expect. Our team thought this was so fundamental that we made it one of our top priorities. We want you to be able to create and edit files on the iPad and know that you can send them to colleagues without messing anything up. The pictures below show the exact same document rendered in Word for iPad and Quickoffice. I didn’t include the title page or table of contents on the Quickoffice side, because Google doesn’t even render them. We think you expect more, and we want you to know that your documents, presentations and spreadsheets will render beautifully in Office across all of your devices – including the iPad. Here is what the comparison looks like today:
A familiar experience, with a Ribbon that helps you get stuff done.
In building Office for iPad, we realized that we needed to get the Office Ribbon just right. We pored over data showing which commands people click most frequently, refined our touch targets, and studied how people interacted with various mockups until we got it just right. Another one of our core goals with Office for iPad was to create apps that are ”Unmistakably Office” so that people feel naturally comfortable when opening the apps for the first time. The Ribbon is a key part of that experience. Quickoffice has a few buttons toward the upper portion of its apps, but it would be generous to call what they have a ribbon. We think that’s an important difference, because the familiar Office Ribbon makes it easier for users like you to get things done.
Present and tell a story directly from your iPad.
I’m sure many of you use PowerPoint to tell stories. When discussing ideas here at Microsoft, I often use slide shows to share ideas. It’s pretty typical for me to use transition and animation effects to highlight key points. If you’re still using Quickoffice, you’re probably wondering how this is possible – because Quickoffice doesn’t allow iPad users to create new transition and animation effects in presentations. Quickoffice also does a poor job of rendering slides and emulating the existing transition effects in PowerPoint presentations. We think the ability to create and present beautiful decks is a core part of the presentation experience. We even included special features, like a press-and-hold laser pointer and slide inking and highlighting capabilities, to enhance your ability to tell a story with the app. I encourage you to download PowerPoint for iPad and present one of your favorite decks to a friend or colleague. It’s free to get the app, and I think you’ll love the experience.
Build formulas without being a rocket scientist (even if you are).
Excel makes it easy to make lists, filter information and build models that help you understand the world. That being said, formulas can be challenging and we know that people often need assistance getting them right. Excel for iPad contains a variety of custom elements – a formulas ribbon tab, a list of recently used formulas and a custom formula keyboard – that we think will help you use the formulas you need. Quickoffice and Sheets have some formulas, but you better know exactly what you need to type if you want them to work. You’ll need to type them directly into the spreadsheet, going back and forth between the letter and symbol keyboard multiple times. Quickoffice and Sheets do not even let you quickly reference formula cells using touch. Our Excel for iPad team tried to make formulas much more accessible, because we want to help people like you complete hours of manual work in seconds by using the right formula.
Use templates to professionalize documents, polish presentations and create budgets.
Sometimes it’s important to get a quick start on your work. The templates in Office for iPad make it easy to create a professional proposal, use a polished design for a presentation or spin up a family budget. Quickoffice, Docs and Sheets do not provide iPad users with polished templates, so you’ll be starting from scratch in every new document, working with basic designs for your presentations and staring at empty cells in your spreadsheet. Our Office team tried to help you get work done much more quickly by offering great starting points for many common tasks. We created our templates based upon customer feedback, and we believe they will help you get a variety of common tasks done much more quickly.
Insert pictures, shapes and tables with pre-defined styles.
Quickoffice, Docs and Sheets do not provide users with a way to use predefined styles to quickly format pictures, shapes and tables. Google’s document and spreadsheet applications on iPad don’t even allow you to insert pictures or shapes. At Microsoft, we recognize that richly formatted content often allows you to communicate a key point, tell an effective story or close a big deal. That’s why you can insert, edit and quickly format pictures, shapes and tables across Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on iPad. We even include a rich set of predefined formats that allow you to put that extra degree of polish on your work, because we know it helps enhance the stories you choose to tell the world. Check out the examples below…you won’t find anything close in Quickoffice, Docs or Sheets.
Thank you for spending time to learn about Office for iPad. If you are already using the apps, we hope you love them. If you have not yet tried them, we hope we’ve given you a few reasons to consider giving the apps a try.
–Aaron Wilson, Senior Program Manager, Office for iPad