Microsoft launches tablet-friendly version of Office for iPad

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Microsoft is launching a new Office app for iPad.
Image: Unsplash | Sanjeev Mohindra / The Burn-In | Cody DeBos

The landscape of productivity has changed dramatically in the past decade. While the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a shift towards remote work models, another change was already underway before the virus hit. Over the past several years, consumers have been moving away from PCs and dedicated laptops to flexible devices like 2-in-1s and tablets.

Thanks to the power of today’s components and a bustling market of accessories, a device like the iPad Pro can entirely replace a laptop. Although it took a long time for software companies to adapt to this change, things are finally turning around. Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it has released its unified Office app for the iPad.

The app was previously available for iOS devices but operated in a windowed format. The new version brings three of Microsoft’s best productivity apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) into one place for easy access and even easier working.

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Embracing iPadOS at Last

While it’s possible to be productive on a tablet, there are certain things that users concede. For instance, there is no way to get around the fact that an iPad has less screen real estate than a laptop. With that in mind, app developers need to be conscious of these differences and account for them in their UX design.

Microsoft has slowly been doing so with its Office app for iOS. By launching an iPadOS version of the app, Microsoft closes a major gap in its productivity portfolio. It is an important update for users that may be wanting to ditch their laptop in favor of the more portable iPad.

Thanks to the new app’s design, users no longer need to rely on the windowed mode or switch between individual Office programs. The best features of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can all be found in the unified app.

Meanwhile, the iPadOS Office app has a number of new capabilities that are worth noting. It allows users to create PDFs and sign documents, convert images to text, and perform a handful of other quick actions.

The app is also optimized for the iPad and has several specific features geared towards it. That includes support for a mouse and trackpad, which is valuable for those that want to use a keyboard case with their device.

Continued Shift

As the pandemic overtook the world, consumers scrambled to get their hands on new devices. With remote work becoming a necessity, many people decided that 2020 was the perfect excuse to upgrade their personal computing hardware.

That trend caused a significant spike in sales for the PC industry, generating its largest year of growth in a decade.

In response, the semiconductor industry faced huge orders from the world’s leading device manufacturers and has struggled to keep up. Chip shortages continue to affect the supply chain and likely will for years to come.

Although demand for new devices is likely to wane as the COVID-19 pandemic ends, it’s no secret that modern consumers prefer flexible gadgets. With that in mind, optimizing productivity software for both traditional computers and tablets is essential for developers moving forward.

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