Microsoft Office for iPad should transform the Apple tablet into a powerful working tool. But for full functionality you’ll need a subscription to Office 365, so not all users will find the tablet version of Office such a revelation.
Office for iPad: free vs. Office 365 subscription
Office for iPad currently consists of three free apps: Word for iOS, Excel for iOS and PowerPoint for iOS. The name of the free version, however, is rather deceptive. You don’t really get more than a file viewer. To edit and create documents, a valid Office 365 subscription is required.
Office for iPad feature comparison: Free vs. Office 365 subscription
In Excel for iOS, you can search, filter and sort tables.
PowerPoint for iOS is suitable for presentations and shows material in either full screen or with notes. During the presentation, interesting points can be highlighted with tools such as a virtual laser pointer and marker pens.
As simple free viewers, the Office for iOS apps should form part of your basic iPad setup. Even if the apps can’t really offer much else, when it comes to viewing Office documents correctly in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your iPad, there’s really no way around it.
What’s annoying is that although they’re just simple viewers they are relatively large apps. PowerPoint take up 215 MB, Excel requires 233 MB, while Word takes up a gigantic 259 MB. If you’re only using the free version without an Office 365 subscription, the other features are simply blocked.
Office 365 subscription features
With an existing Office 365 subscription you can use the full version of Office for iPad. This $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year is for the most basic version of Office 365 Home Premium.
The Office for iOS interface is very similar to Office Online from the Windows version. On the iPad, you can also use the individual apps in the Ribbon toolbar.
Word for iOS
Word for iPad offers almost all the features you already know from Word: document templates, fonts and advanced layout features. With the help of the split keyboard, you’ve got enough space on a small tablet to design completely new documents and revise existing material.
Formatting of text works well and quickly; you’ll achieve good results with it. When embedding elements such as images, however, you must compromise a bit. The orientation to center, left or right, can’t be altered after you place the images. On the other hand, size, rotation, and text flow can be easily adapted.
Normal editing of documents in Word for iOS also works easily. Shared documents can be edited simultaneously with others in real time.
Excel for iOS
In Excel for iPad, Microsoft has splashed out and offers a comprehensive and well-thought out app. The touch controls work surprisingly well. You can easily select cells, columns and rows, and also create or change complex formulas with ease.
Difficulties arise with a rather limited display size, but Microsoft can’t do anything about this. Bear in mind that large tables won’t show up so well on iPad. In order to use the space intelligently, Excel for the iPad is optimized for landscape mode. From here you can access almost all the functions you know from Windows via the menu bar.
PowerPoint for iOS
PowerPoint for iPad is also a fully-fledged app. As on the desktop, you can make appealing presentations from scratch. Adding slides with images and tables can be easily managed too.
If you’ve got a complex presentation in mind, however, you should resort to the Windows app. On the iPad, it’s missing too many features in comparison with the (now very sophisticated) Windows version. The real benefit of PowerPoint for iOS, however, lies elsewhere. The app is perfect for adding the finishing touches to semi-prepared presentations, then presenting them directly from the iPad.
Conclusion: Office for iPad brings new life to everyday business
Office for iPad is aimed at business customers and is perfect for this market. For those who still don’t use an Office 365 subscription, Office for iPad won’t provide sufficient motivation. As a home user, Office for iOS is only really essential for viewing Office documents. If you’re looking to reproduce Office documents exactly as you’re used to seeing them, you’d be better off with the traditional desktop apps.
PowerPoint, however, is an exception to the rule. This excellent presentation app is sure to reign supreme in the office life of many companies, even without an Office 365 subscription. Running through a finished presentation straight from your iPad is convenient as well as making a great impression.