Last November, Microsoft launched a beta of its free Office apps for Android tablets and announced that it would make them generally available for Android tablets in early 2015. It’s now early 2015 and today Microsoft is living up to its promise by launching Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android tablets. The updated apps should arrive in the Google Play store over the course of the next few hours. With today’s release, Microsoft has now brought fully supported versions of Office to all major mobile platforms.
Microsoft first introduced the preview version of Office for Android tablets last November. For the most part, Office for Android looks exactly like the iPad version Microsoft introduced almost a year ago. As Julia White, Microsoft’s general manager for its Office division, told me earlier this week, the iOS and Android versions draw from the same codebase, so there is virtually no difference in functionality, either.
Microsoft has now unified the look of its Office apps across platforms and, as it turns out, Office for Android and iPad pretty much foreshadowed the look and feel of Office 2016. You can take a look at our review of Office for iPad to get a better idea of the apps’ capabilities.
Just like on the iPad, the Android tablet apps are available for free, and you can use them to create files and edit them (and print them, if that’s something you still do).
Microsoft tells me that it saw about 250,000 downloads during the Android apps’ beta period. Thanks to this large tester group, Microsoft was able to gather performance and crash data from about 500 different device models.
Here are the system requirements for the apps: the device needs to have a screen size of 7 inches or more and needs to run KitKat 4.4. That’s pretty straightforward. What’s odd, though, is that the apps will run on Android 5.0 Lollipop, too, but are not officially supported there. One of the next updates will change that. Chances are, this is because Microsoft simply hasn’t been able to get enough feedback from Lollipop users yet — because there aren’t all that many devices out there yet that run the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.
Office for iOS has been a huge hit for Microsoft. As the company also announced today, those apps have now been downloaded over 80 million times.
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