Touch-friendly viewing of Office documents in smartphone browsers

Last month we introduced new touch editing experiences for Windows 8 and iOS tablets. You can read more on that here.

With this release, we’ll continue to offer a view-only experience on most smartphones, but we are also making document viewing more touch-friendly in browsers on many popular smartphones. We prioritized such touch-enabled viewing so you can easily access and read Office documents on SkyDrive or Office 365 whether you’re using a desktop, tablet, or smartphone browser.

In designing Office Web Apps for mobile browsers, we set out to achieve the following goals:

  • Touch enabled experience on all major smartphone platforms (Windows Phone 7.5 and up, iOS 5.0 and up, and Android 4.0 and up)
  • Make good use of the limited screen real estate
  • Make it simple for people to read and navigate document content

Here are the basic gestures we support: 

  • Flick vertically to navigate through a Word document
  • Flick horizontally to navigate through a PowerPoint slide deck
  • Pan in any direction to navigate Excel spreadsheets
  • To open the toolbar, tap the screen, then tap the toolbar indicator, and you’ll see the toolbar on the side of the screen.


 Interacting with files

Now let’s take a look at how you can interact with files from your mobile device:

 Word Viewing

To optimize reading Word docs on your mobile browser, we designed documents to reflow to achieve the best readability. Most of the document’s text formatting and content types (images, SmartArt, shapes, text boxes, etc.) are preserved. 

If you need to adjust the text size further to read more easily, you can open the Font-size tab on the toolbar.

A common user scenario for working with large documents is the need to navigate to a specific page. With touch-friendly Office, users don’t have to swipe repeatedly to move down page after page. Instead, users can drag the page slider on the right side to go to a specific page quickly. 

 If you see a table that flows over the edge of the screen, you can drag the table horizontally to view all of it. We take advantage of the touch capability to keep the format as close as possible to the actual table, so as not to sacrifice a good user experience. 


You can tap on a thumbnail image to enlarge it. 

 Excel Viewing

Excel Mobile Viewer provides high fidelity viewing of your Excel files.


 When a chart extends beyond the screen, users can use the Zoom function to choose a designated view for the chart, which lets you zoom in and zoom out on it.


 Often, there is more than one spreadsheet in a workbook. You see a list of spreadsheets on the toolbar and then tap on the one you’d like to open.


 You can tap on the Sort button to sort an Excel table in ascending or descending order-if the table you access already had sorting enabled.

 You can tap on “+” or “-” symbol in a Pivot table, or the Group Data view, to expand or collapse data.

 PowerPoint Viewing

We designed PowerPoint presentations to display so that they best utilize the mobile landscape. For instance, when you hold your phone vertically, the view is divided in half (we call this “split view”) so that the top half displays the slide, and the lower half displays the text on the slide, including the notes. This is quite useful when you are on-the-go and want to quickly go through the content of the slide without having to pan around the slide area. 


If you wish to view only the slide, you can hold your phone horizontally so that only the slide image is shown.


To zoom, you can simply pinch on the slide no matter which view you are in.   


Last but not least, you can join a presentation online in your mobile browser.  Imagine that you are stuck in traffic while an important presentation at work is taking place using the latest Office Presentation Service. You can join the presentation by tapping on the link sent to your inbox. 


We encourage you to try out the new Office Web Apps Preview on or on Office 365  and preview on your mobile phone (if you are using: Windows Phone 7.5 and up/iOS 5.0 and up/Android 4.0 and up)

 We want to hear from you, please share your experience. From the toolbar, click “Give Feedback.”

 We are constantly refining and improving the experience, and are actively listening to what you like and don’t like.