Optimized for iPad: Office scenarios

Derek Snook is senior program manager lead for Office Shared Features.

Hello again from the Office for iPad® engineering team! Check out our previous post, and thanks for all your feedback. Please continue to give us feedback so we can keep fine-tuning Office for the iPad!

During the initial development of these new apps, we looked across the capabilities of Office and considered what it means to get work done on the iPad: working on the go, the touch interface, the iPad screen size, and its different modes, such as when the keyboard appears on the screen. I want to highlight a few examples of how we adapted Office features with the iPad in mind.

Work easily with Office documents offline and online

An important goal for our team was to make sure it was easy to go back and forth between Office documents on the iPad and on other devices, whether you’re working offline or online.

When you sign in to Office for iPad with either your Microsoft account or your organization’s Office 365 account, you’re greeted by the document list, with options for getting to your Recent documents, creating New files, or using Open to find another document to work with. With OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint your files roam wherever you go, and the Recent list shows the files you’ve opened or edited most recently, whether you were working offline on a PC or Mac, on Office Online, or on a mobile device. Check out Office 365 Personal to learn about the newest way to activate Office for iPad for document editing and creation.

We knew working offline would be important on the iPad. One customer, in response to our previous blog post, put it this way: “A great feature to add would be an easy way to save files to the iPad to work offline…Am I missing a trick??”

Yes, you can do that! When you’re working with Office for iPad and you’re connected to the network, in your Recent documents tab you’ll see “Downloaded” with a date and time under that file. The green checkmark in the file icon also means “Downloaded” for offline use. If you see that your file has been downloaded, you can go offline and edit the file offline, and the next time you open that Office app with an Internet connection, your changes will be synced back to the cloud.

With Office 365 your files roam with you.

Search your documents more easily

A frequent action in Word and Excel is to search documents or spreadsheets for specific text. With Office for iPad, we wanted to make it easy to see as much of the document as possible while working with search tools.

We approached this by creating a slim Find bar with familiar options. When you tap the magnifying glass in the top right of the Command bar, the Office Ribbon slides out of view and is replaced by the Find bar, which allows for more space to view your content while searching. On the left of the Find bar is a settings menu, which includes search tools such as Find & Replace and Match Case. The Find bar remains slim and unobtrusive while you navigate through your work. When you’re done, tap the document and the Find bar slips away and the Ribbon commands return into view.

You can search faster with the Find bar in Office for iPad.

Build and modify formulas faster with the Formula keyboard

Excel is great for creating tables of information and numbers you want to track and understand. When you use formulas in Excel, a spreadsheet can become a powerful analysis tool. Creating or modifying formulas means working with numbers, symbols, and data references in your worksheet. Typing a formula on the iPad keyboard can be slow, since the language of formulas uses many different symbols. To help out, we added an optimized Formula keyboard for quick access to the common building blocks of formulas. This special keyboard also makes it easy to rapidly add rows of number values to a list, even if you’re not using formulas.

Using the keyboard can save you time when you need to build new formulas to track or analyze your data or you need modify your favorite formulas. And it’s easy to use. When the keyboard appears on screen, you just tap the switcher in the upper-right corner of the keyboard to switch between the standard keyboard and the Formula keyboard. The Formula keyboard includes several keys with a dark notch in the corner. Pressing and holding these keys reveals a menu of related symbols or options, giving you more tools right at your fingertips. You can switch between the normal keyboard and the Formula keyboard anytime you’re editing a cell.

The Formula keyboard in Office for iPad helps you build and modify formulas faster.

Use the newest slide transitions

With PowerPoint, you can bring slides to life through animations and transitions. PowerPoint for iPad® plays back these animations and transitions beautifully. Some of these effects make use of complex 3D transformations and particle physics, and we worked carefully to tune the performance and appearance of these effects on the iPad hardware.

PowerPoint for iPad includes the newest transition effects found in the PowerPoint family, and we think you’ll like what you see. My favorite is the Curtain transition, a great way to open your slideshow, or to wrap it up before you take a bow.
Use the newest slide transitions in Office for iPad.

Easily control the layout of your documents

Adjusting tab stops and table columns in Word gives you greater control over document layout. With Word for iPad®, we adapted the ruler to make these adjustments easy by using your finger.

You turn on the ruler from the Ribbon’s View tab. Drag tab stops to adjust their position, and double-tap a stop to change its alignment. Tap elsewhere in the ruler to add a new tab stop, or drag a stop off of the ruler to remove it. When you select a table, the ruler will display the column markers for you to adjust.

With Office for iPad you can control the layout of your documents by adjusting the Ruler.

To the future

We’re planning updates to Office for iPad right now, and to help us keep improving it, we’d love to hear your feedback on how we adapted these features, as well as your suggestions for what you’d like to see next. Please stay in touch right here on this blog, and say yes when our apps ask you to send us information to help improve the product.

—Derek Snook