Microsoft Office makes the leap to iPhone

A surprise popped up in the iTunes Store on Friday: an iPhone version of Microsoft Office.

The app has its limitations. It’s free to download but only works for those who subscribe to Microsoft’s Office 365 service, which costs $10 per month or $100 per year. It isn’t meant for the iPad, whose larger screen would make it easier to work with documents. And it only works with the three core programs of Office: Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

But it is Office. And it’s on the iPhone. That counts for a lot.

Users can edit existing documents started on other screens from Word, Excel and PowerPoint using the app, making it easier to incorporate last-minute changes and suggestions into shared meeting materials that everyone on a team can see. Users can also make new Word and Excel files from their phones, which is particularly convenient for those times when you want to get a thought or figure down, but don’t have a laptop handy.

Because the app works with Office 365’s cloud capabilities, the changes you make on your phone will show up across all your devices. So the next time you pick up the document on your laptop or desktop, it should reflect all the tweaks you made on the go.

The app comes after long speculation over whether Microsoft would come up with a way to run its essential software suite on smartphones from competitors. Office is one of Microsoft’s most important and iconic products and has been a major selling point for Microsoft’s Windows Phones and tablets running Windows RT and Windows 8.

But adding iOS support gives Microsoft the opportunity to reach a much wider audience in the smartphone market and sell more of the subscriptions it’s pushing for the wider Office suite.

For consumers, it’s certainly a plus. To this point, most of the Office alternatives that have popped up to fill a demand for productivity software on the iPhone are, by and large, not as stable, feature-rich or easy to share with others as Microsoft’s files.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some competition. Google, which has challenged Office with its flexible and portable Google Docs suite, has a Drive app for the phone that also lets users make new word-processing documents or spreadsheets from the iPhone. Users can also upload photos or videos using the app, and edit a wider range of Drive documents.

And Apple announced earlier this week that it’s adapting its iWork suite for iCloud, providing a more competitive product to take on Office 365. The additions mean that Apple’s productivity software will give users a way to work with Pages, Numbers and Keynote files on the Web. Those files will also be Office-compatible, the company said.

More in Herald Business Journal

Housing boom in Puget Sound region missing crucial element: Condos

Developers are only building high-end condos where there’s enough margins to cover potential litigation.

Somers sees Paine Field as focal point of a thriving county

In an annual speech, he also acknowledged challenges such as opioid addiction, crime and homelessness.

Trump orders huge tariffs on China, raises trade war worries

Business groups worry China will target U.S. exports of aircraft, soybeans and other products.

Can Zuckerberg’s media blitz take the pressure off Facebook?

The generally reclusive CEO sat for an interview on CNN and gave another to the publication Wired.

Professor: Workplace is 5th leading cause of death in the US

Long hours, lack of health insurance, little autonomy and high job demands are killing us.

Will thousands of new apartments in Snohomish County mean lower rents?

Experts debate the meaning of a recent price drop, one of the biggest decreases in more than a decade.

Airbnb listings: Learn how to read between the lines

Places close to nightlife aren’t for everyone.

City of Atlanta computer network hit by ransomware attack

The outage included the encryption of some city data.

Few retired people expect to pay off mortgages, survey finds

32% predict that they will be paying their mortgage for at least eight more years.

Most Read