Microsoft updates Office for iOS with 3D Touch features, Apple Pencil support and more

By , Jan 21, 2016

Microsoft Excel for iOS 3D Touch Home screen shortcut iPhone 6s screenshot 001

Microsoft today rolled out updates to its mobile Office suite in the App Store: Word, ExcelPowerPoint and OneNote. Across the board these apps have gained support for 3D Touch shortcuts on the iPhone 6s/Plus.

In addition, the new ‘Annotate with Ink’ feature puts a set of cool tools on the new Draw tab for drawing, writing and highlighting things using touch, pen or Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.

3D Touch shortcuts

Sadly, 3D Touch support in Word, Excel and PowerPoint is limited to Home screen shortcuts. Worse, actual implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

Upon pressing an app’s icon lightly on the Home screen of your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you’ll get but one shortcut: New Document, New Workbook and New Presentation, depending on the app.

Microsoft Word for iOS 3D Touch Home screen shortcut iPhone 6s screenshot 001

Peek and Pop gestures within the apps are nowhere to be found.

Spotlight integration, cloud fonts

On a brighter note, Office apps now expose their content to Spotlight on iOS 9 devices so you can quickly find your recently opened documents via Spotlight.

Microsoft PowerPoint for iOS 3D Touch Home screen shortcut iPhone 6s screenshot 001

Last but not least, fonts for your documents, workbooks and presentations can now be downloaded on demand, from the cloud, when you need them.

OneNote improvements

In addition to 3D Touch shortcuts, OneNote has gained support for notifications and improved iPad multitasking: Side-by-Side and Slipover views now support searching, sharing and viewing the title of your open notebook.

In addition, OneNote’s built-in search has expanded in scope so you can search all of your OneDrive notebooks, even if they’re not on your device.

Draw tab, Convert to Shapes

As mentioned, Office apps now come with the all-new Draw tab with additional inking tools available on the iPad Pro. “We have evolved our apps to sense the approach of an active pen so that you can start to ink instantly, without needing to select a feature or control,” said Microsoft.

Office for iPad Pro Draw tab

Wit the new ‘Covert to Shapes’ mode, you can transform hand-drawn shapes to perfect looking shapes to create customizable diagrams and process flows. For instance, sketch two quick circles for an easy Venn diagram or draw a process flow of squares and arrows and it’ll convert sketched shapes into formatted graphics.

PowerPoint Designer capability and the Morph feature from PowerPoint for Windows desktop and Windows Mobile are now available in PowerPoint for iPhone, iPad and iPad Pro.

And last but not least, Office Insider, a preview program that permits Office 365 subscribers to get early access to the latest Office features, is now available as an opt-in feature to Mac owners from the Microsoft Auto Update tool.

Word, ExcelPowerPoint and OneNote are available free in the App Store.

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  • Merman123

    Microsoft making some of the best apps for iOS…

    It’s a great time to be alive.

    • James G

      It took them awhile, but they’ve really stepped up their game. Google is falling behind!

  • That’s a giant fail-a-roonie the way Apple Pencil support is implemented, though.

    No matter what you want to do with the pencil – crop a picture, resize a graphic, move block of text – every time you put the Apple Pencil to the screen – you’re drawing.

    No way to shut it off at least with the current version of the PowerPoint – absolutely maddening