Microsoft has just recently released iPad apps for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. These aren't just sloppy ports of the Windows programs, either. These apps were designed from the ground-up to work efficiently on the iPad and with touch controls. I was able to download them and check them out, and here are my impressions.
- Syncs Seamlessly With OneDrive: When you load the various apps, your recent documents and your OneDrive folders will be right there for you to browse through. Files load quickly, too.
- Maintains Your Formatting: I've always had to save my Word and PowerPoint documents as PDF's before loading them with iPad apps to maintain their visual look and proper formatting. These apps load the original documents correctly without having to save them as PDF's.
- PowerPoint Transitions: I've always been bummed out by iPad apps that would load .PPT files but would be unable to play the animations. The official PowerPoint app, however, can play all animations normally. Just swipe one direction to do the next animation and swipe the other direction to back up.
- Excellent Design: I did not try making any new documents, but I was very impressed with all the menus and the interface. In many ways, these apps have a more efficient and more intuitive design than the actual Office programs on Windows 8 PC's (at least with regards to touch controls). I am told that app versions of these programs are coming to the Windows 8 app store soon for you Windows tablet users.
- Provides a Free “Trial” Version: You can download the apps for free, but they will only work as a document reader. You won't be able to make or edit documents with the free version. However, this does allow you to explore the app's features and design as a sort of demo. It is good to be able to see what you'll get before you pay.
- Familiar to PC Users: If you have teachers at your school who refuse to use Pages or Keynote because they aren't called “Word” and “Powerpoint” like they are familiar with on their computers, these apps might make them feel more comfortable.
- Only Connects With OneDrive: As of right now, you can only load documents from Microsoft's cloud storage system. Adding Dropbox, Google Drive, Copy, Box, and more would be a great addition.
- No Way to Just Buy the Apps: The only way to unlock the full version of the apps (to create and edit documents) is to buy a $99 per year Office 365 subscription. Now, this fee gives you access to all the apps as well as the PC versions, so that is a pretty good deal. But it still would've been nice to be able to just hand over a one-time fee and buy the iPad apps on their own.
- Big File Sizes: The apps are very large: 400mb to 500mb each. If you have a 16gb iPad, you might not have the room to download them all. That said, Apple's iWorks apps are about the same size.
I do not have an Office 365 subscription, so I was not able to create or edit documents to see how well those paid features worked. If I ever get a subscription, I will make a new post or update this post. If anyone with a subscription has tried out these apps, give us some input in the comments.