Office for iOS Gets More Cloud-Friendly

Today Microsoft announced extended support for third-party file storage services inside the Office for iOS apps. This is a big deal for iPad workers.

This feature first rolled out a few months ago with Dropbox and now they’ve added Box. The advantage of this new integration is that you can open, edit, and save file stored in your cloud storage without making a separate copy in the Office for iOS app. This is always how you edited files on the Mac but up until very recently was impossible on an iPad or iPhone. Instead, iOS required you to make a local copy in and then re-upload it to the cloud service later. (And in the first days of the iPad you had to transfer documents using iTunes on the Mac and a cable.) Any file system that requires you to make multiple copies of a document in order to edit it will one editable result in lost data and many tears.

So Office for iOS now lets us work directly on files in Dropbox or Box without any multiple-copy shenanigans. All of this happens right from the Open menu. I’ve been working with my Dropbox documents in this manner since it first rolled out and it works great. Microsoft intends to add additional services in the coming months.

Unfortunately, missing from the list is iCloud and that is too bad. Currently, you can access your iCloud storage from inside Microsoft Office for iOS apps but when you open the file, it gets copied to the the Microsoft One Drive storage space and and the original gets left on iCloud. Again, you’ll be working with multiple documents.

It seems to me that Star Wars isn’t the only place where we’ve had an awakening. Microsoft has been upping its game for the iOS Office suite. I spend a significant amount of time in Microsoft Word and Excel with my day job and lately I’m finding the iOS versions of the the Office Suite more interesting, more stable, and more fun to use than their companion Mac versions. Moreover, with these continued updates it seems like there are no signs of Microsoft letting up. We are no longer dealing with the same Microsoft Word we saw just a few years ago and I like that.