June 14, 2013 at 12:53 PM ET
We've been twiddling our thumbs and waiting for quite some time, but Microsoft Office has finally arrived on the iPhone. As long as you have a $99-per-year Office 365 subscription, you'll be able to view and edit your documents on the go.
If you're an Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 ProPlus subscriber, you won't be shelling out anything extra to use Office Mobile for iPhone. You'll just download the app through the Apple App Store, sign into your account, and tada! You'll have access to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you're not an Office 365 subscriber ... well, then you'll have the option to sign up inside the app (with billing going to your Apple account). If you don't want to pay the annual fee — which gives you the license to install a full Office suite including Outlook onto up to five Macs or PCs and offers you 20 gigabytes of cloud storage — you're out of luck. There's no one-time fee option for this app, like there is with Apple's iWork apps.
Since your documents live in Microsoft's SkyDrive, content and formatting will be kept intact across devices, so you won't have to worry about things getting messed up as you switch between your iPhone and your desktop. There's support for comments, charts, animations and all the fun stuff built right into the mobile app.
From the looks of it, Office Mobile for iPhone is definitely not intended to serve as your primary way of using Office products though. You can create documents, but the editing tools are weak. Mostly you'll be opening files and, perhaps, tweaking them. (Microsoft even descibes it as an "Office companion.") And in case you were looking to use the app on your iPad, heed these words from Microsoft's Office blog: "Like all iPhone apps, Office Mobile can work on iPad, either small or '2X' scaled up, but you'll have a more satisfying experience using Office Web Apps."
In other words: No true iPad app ... not yet at least. It's probably not a coincidence that the Surface RT, Microsoft's iPad competitor, doesn't have a fat-finger-friendly version of Office, either. Even that only runs Word et al in the classic Windows Desktop — and a mouse and keyboard are strongly encouraged.
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