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 microsoft apps on ios

Microsoft Apps on iOS: The Full Suite

In my last post I talked about the history of the Microsoft Office apps on iOS devices; iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. I also talked about the features that are available, even without a paid subscription to Office 365, and showed you how to sync Office on iOS with either OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or even Dropbox!

The Vertical Ribbon

If you’ve used any of the Microsoft Office applications on either PC or Mac, you’re probably quite familiar with the Ribbon concept at the top of your screen. It’s a tabbed section above your document, with quick access to the tools and features, handily divided into contextual categories. The downside to the Ribbon is how much real estate it takes up on your screen, and this would not translate well to the smaller screens of iOS devices. 

So Microsoft developed the Vertical Ribbon, and it’s just as quick and just as useful as it’s desktop counterpart. 

Tap the icon at the top of your screen that looks like a Capital “A” with a Pencil over it. You can then select which “tab” to access from the menu. So cool! Enough about the Office Suite in general! Let's look at some of the individual Office for iOS apps available to you right now:

Microsoft Word

It sure is nice to have Word available on the go! It's got plenty of features you would expect for formatting documents, like fonts, columns, lists and text alignment, etc., but it also allows you to insert and crop images into a document, and even export the end product as a PDF and email it. And it's all rooted in the cloud, giving you ready access to your documents you created on a PC or Mac. In fact, I wrote these two blog posts in Word on both my iPad and iPhone 6, using OneDrive for Business to keep everything synchronized! For comments and change tracking, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft Excel

Excel on iPad and iPhone is impressively powerful considering what it can accomplish. It has a slew of templates built in to start financial reports, project planning, invoice documents, etc. You can open and edit complex spreadsheets which are filled with formulas, charts, and graphs, right from your OneDrive or Dropbox account. The built-in reference dictionary is very handy for looking up functions. To use Pivot Tables (for data analysis) you’ll need to be an Office 365 subscriber, but everything else works just fine without it.

Microsoft Powerpoint

The iPad is perfectly suited for presentation software, as it is portable, comes with a long-lasting battery, but also has a large enough screen to read from a moderate distance, and has a touch screen interface. It will sit very nearly on a lectern without being intrusive. The iPhone, on the other hand,  a little small for using as a presenter, but it does make a ready backup option. By pairing these capabilities with either an HDMI adapter or even displaying wirelessly using AirPlay to an AppleTV (also very portable), you can set up PowerPoint to connect to a TV, or projector right from your iPad or iPhone and present documents previously prepared on a PC or Mac. You can edit PowerPoint documents or create new ones right on your device, but to access presenter mode you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.


Outlook is called OWA in the App Store. While it doesn't have nearly the functionality or capability of Outlook on Windows or even Outlook on Mac, it does give you access to your work email, calendar, and contacts on the go. It locks with a passcode, which means you don't have to worry about sensitive company info being compromised. And it's a universal app, which means it works on both iPad and iPhone. If you allow it to give you notifications, it will pop up any calendar events right on your iPhone lock screen, which is really nice for when you're away from your desk.


OneNote is Microsoft's cross-platform note taking app, and if you only take one thing away from this article do this one thing: download OneNote to your iPhone and iPad... and any other device you own. It really is a great app, and one that I use every day. It syncs to Microsoft's very stable servers, so your data is secure, and you can access your notes on any device or even in a browser. I wish more software was as stable and straightforward and useful as OneNote. My fellow wizard, Randy, wrote a great article with his favorite One Note features. This app constantly surprises me with more functionality.


Using Lync for iOS extends the power of your work communication system right to your mobile device... which is where it should be! Lync works wonderfully well on the iPhone, much better in fact than it's Mac OS X counterpart, which is somewhat difficult to configure. By some accounts, it works even better on the iPhone than it does on Windows phone. All the IM and calling features are available, and you can pick up a conversation where you left off on another device. Again, this is an app I use every day.

Windows Intune Company Portal

With this last app I wanted to just touch briefly on the power of Office 365. The "Comp Portal" app gives an IT department the capability of allowing employee iPhones to be used on the company domain without compromising security or convenience. This app enables an IT department to remotely install necessary apps on an iOS device, and reset passwords, etc. in the event of loss or theft, which is just good for everybody (except would-be phone thieves). If your company isn’t using this, it should be, and we can help set it up!

As I’ve said, some of these features require a Microsoft Office 365 subscription to function, and let me just say, Office 365 is great value for your money. Whether you just plan to use it as an individual or whether you want to get your whole company on a subscription, Microsoft has an affordable plan that includes free storage space.
Something that Bit-Wizards specializes in is Office 365 migration. In fact, our Office 365 Concierge Service makes the transition from your old exchange-server-plus-individual-office-licenses-for-each-user model to Microsoft's extremely robust, cloud-based Office 365 system a smooth, painless and fast process. We have a team of resident wizards who are very experienced and knowledgeable in all things Office 365, and I guarantee you’ll be impressed!


Samuel O. Blowes, Director of IT
Samuel O. Blowes

Director of IT