One of the first things I noticed when I got my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 was that it shipped with an all-in-one Microsoft Office app. According to a new report, that app will soon come to iOS as well. And now I’m wondering: Could it replace the standalone Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps too?
“Microsoft fans are probably curious what’s going on here,” I noted in my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 First Impressions article back in late August, alluding to Microsoft’s unexpected partnership with Samsung. “There is a Microsoft folder on the home screen (and in All Apps), and it has four apps in it: LinkedIn, Office Mobile, OneDrive, and Outlook. Presumably, you’ll be asked to download individual Office applications like Word and Excel when you try to access those document types through the Office or OneDrive apps.”
As it turns out, that is not required: Instead, that new Office Mobile app opens Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and no additional download is required. In fact, it looks and works an awful lot like the Office Mobile panoramic experience that first graced Windows Phone 7.
Now we know a bit more. According to Mary Jo Foley, this new app is available only as a preloaded app or as a download from Samsung’s mobile app store on select Samsung devices. It is not available today from the Google Play Store, so users of other Android devices are out of luck.
“This unified Office Mobile app, my contacts say, is codenamed ‘Unity,’.” Foley writes. “It was designed by a Microsoft team in India, I’m hearing. It’s designed to be much smaller and more nimble than the individual Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android which Microsoft offers in the Google Play Store.” Foley also heard that Office Mobile is coming to iOS, and she guesses, logically enough, that it will be bundled on the Surface Duo next year as well.
Presumably, it will simply also Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile, assuming that the functionality is identical. Foley’s open question about the app appearing on real Windows, however, makes less sense: Microsoft already killed its mobile Office apps on Windows, where users expect the real Office applications. But Microsoft being Microsoft, anything is possible.