Being accustomed to working with Microsoft’s Office suite and then buying an Apple product is no easy thing to do. Most of the time, you have to be prepared to start using Apple’s own software – iWork. So, naturally, people who bought an iPhone or iPhone, but use, say, a Windows laptop, will want to have the same on the iPhone. Users across the world have asked for Microsoft to release an Office application for the iPhone and the iPad, and their prayers have finally been listened. But there are enough drawbacks hidden inside.

Microsoft announced today on their Office blog that the Office Mobile app for iPhone is now available in Apple’s App Store. However, in order to use it, you will need a subscription to Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 ProPlus. So, the Office Mobile for iPhone is free only for those that already have an account. And for those who can’t afford it or don’t think it’s fair to pay that much, it’s just unreachable. A Office 365 Home Premium subscription will cost you $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month while a Office 365 ProPlus one will be at $12 per user/month with annual commitment or $15.00 user/billed monthly (for enterprises).

office mobile iphone

Office Mobile app released for the iPhone, no iPad app yet

So, if you’re one of those lucky enough to possess one of these subscription, then you should know that with Office Mobile for iPhone you can access, view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents from anywhere you are, thanks to the cloud connectivity. However, you’ll have to rely on Microsoft’s SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro or SharePoint services to do that. Is it me or it seems kind of weird to think that somebody will use iCloud and Microsoft SkyDrive in the same time? Speaking of cloud, you should also now that Apple is going to update iWork for iOS devices, to make it cloud based, as well. Another reason for iOS users to stick around with iWork?

And to make things more disappointing, there’s no iPad version at all. We all have to agree that working with documents on a tablet is much more easier and more comfortable than doing it on a smartphone. Nonetheless, Microsoft thinks otherwise and is still reluctant towards releasing a standalone Office application for the most used tablet in the world. And they might be missing a great opportunity as recently, in February 2013, Morgan Stanley’s analyst Adam Holt pointed out that Microsoft might be leaving $2.5 billion per annum on the table by refusing to launch Office on the iPad.

Apparently, Microsoft is still confident that Office represents a major selling point for Microsoft’s own Surface tablets and its Windows Phone 8 operating system, as The Guardian also rightfully observes. Personally, I know many folks that are not yet read to buy an iPad, either because Android seems too familiar to them or because they can’t have Office. So, Microsoft is trying to play safe here, but it’s really, really hard to think that they can make more money from keeping Office away from the iPad rather than deliver it a recurring, monthly or annual subscription.

The app needs to be bettered

Inside the Office Mobile for iPhone app, you can create Word and Excel documents, but not PowerPoint presentations. Tom Warren with TheVerge explains that it might take a while until you get used to it:

Excel includes largely the same editing options as Word, but there are a few more specific options for spreadsheet data. If Word was confusing for editing, then Excel isn’t much better. Highlighting cells was super frustrating initially, until you realise you have to highlight in the very center to drag and highlight additional ones. Once you’ve highlighted the relevant data, it’s easy to create tables and charts that you can insert into separate tabs in the spreadsheet. You can also apply basic filters, an AutoSum calculation, and column sorting for data. You can even change the formulas in single cells, making it useful for changing mistakes on the go.

The ability to insert and change images is also absent, so all in all, you should not expect the Office experience to be somehow similar in terms of productivity to the one on your desktop machine. Office Mobile for iPhone will prove to be very useful only in emergency situations as there are things that definitely need to be ironed out. Have a look at the video below to see Office Mobile for iPhone in action.

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is the Managing Editor of Technically Personal. When he has some extra-time, he writes about Windows 8 apps and reviews them on Wind8Apps. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend