Microsoft rolls out Office preview apps for Android smartphones

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Microsoft Office public preview version has finally been released for Android smartphones, several months after launching on Android tablets.

Jared Spataro, general manager of Microsoft Office 365 marketing, announced on Tuesday that the Redmond has rolled out preview versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android smartphones.

Using the Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint smartphone apps, users will be able to open, view, edit, and create documents, collaborate with other users by sharing documents with comments, track changes, and more, and there’s support for opening and saving files to cloud services including OneDrive, SharePoint, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box. Sharing of documents can also be done by simply emailing a hyperlink or an attachment.

The apps also feature some design tweaks, including thumb-friendly placement of the ribbon and other controls, which have been moved to the bottom of the display, to make one-handed adjustments easier. Documents, spreadsheets and presentations are also optimized for better viewing on on smartphone-sized screens.

“Bringing these apps to Preview first provides you with an early look at the apps, while enabling us to gather critical user feedback helping us shape and improve the app experience on a wide range of Android phones across the world,” Spataro said.

“The feedback we received from the Office for Android tablet Preview in January was critical to ensuring a high quality and consistent Office experience across Android tablet devices.”

“Please note that the existing Office Mobile app for Android phone will still be available in the app store during Preview. We will disclose more about our plans for this app later in the year when we announce general availability of the new Office for Android phone apps.”

People interested in gaining access to Office for Android phones will need to join the Office for Android community to become a tester. They will then have to wait for Google Play to replicate the permissions, which Microsoft said could take up to four hours, before getting the go-ahead to download and install the Office apps via Google Play. It is to be noted that testers will need a handset running Android KitKat 4.4.x or higher and at least 1GB of RAM.