Microsoft is one of the best developers when it comes to frequent and meaningful updates to their swath of Android apps in the Play Store. The Redmond, Washington company has released several updates to some of their apps as part of the normal monthly Office 365 updates. All of these updates are now in the Play Store so you should be able to check for the update now or, if you have auto updates enabled, you likely have already been updated.
Outlook for Android has a great new feature that frankly I wish Gmail had: Do Not Disturb. It’s no mystery on what it does. It prevents email notifications from showing up on your phone. It works just like the DND feature in Android itself, meaning you can set it up for a specific amount of time or until you manually turn it back off. Also, in Outlook, you can now delete contacts directly in the app.
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For those readers who administer a Google G Suite environment, take note of an announcement that Google made this week. On February 28, 2018 the classic Google Calendar interop tool will be shuttered, meaning that you will need to be using the new tool which was announced back in July.
For those who aren’t familiar with this tool, it allows for the seamless coexistence of a Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 environment within a G Suite account in that same environment. That means users can search across not only Google Calendar but Microsoft-based calendars for information, meeting times and the like.
In July, Google released a far more robust version of this interop tool, bringing several new features and overall stability to the solution. That is the version that Google wants you using and, come February next year, you will have to use it going forward.
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Microsoft’s continual updating of Arrow Launcher, the company’s Android launcher app, has been impressive and for the most part, have been significant updates. That’s no different with the latest update, version 3.6. This update to Microsoft Arrow Launcher brings a handful of refinements and improvements to the launcher. Perhaps the most interesting one for the majority of users is the ability to hid or show the system status bar.
The System Status bar is the bar at the top of the display where you see your clock, Wi-Fi indicator, battery indicator and so forth. Arrow Launcher now gives you the option in Settings>General Settings to turn this on or off. This is a great feature if you want to have a more clutter free view of your home screen.
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Most certainly file this one under finally! Microsoft has announced that support for Google Calendar and Google Contacts is finally coming to Outlook for Mac. For those on Windows 10 using Outlook for Windows, this is no big deal. The support for integrating your Google Calendar into Outlook has been there pretty much from the beginning. Not the case for Mac users. While adding your Gmail account to Outlook for Mac was no biggie, your calendar and contacts from Google would not sync. It just wasn’t an option.
In an announcement to the Office Insiders, Microsoft has started rolling out the support for Google Calendar and Contacts to those in the Insider Fast Ring. The feature is certainly still in the test phase, so much so that Microsoft isn’t rolling it out to everyone who is an Insider. Those who don’t get it immediately will be prompted at some point in the future to add their Google account so they can start testing.
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Microsoft has pushed an update out to the Android version of Excel, Word and PowerPoint to the Play Store. The updated Office 365 apps brings new features to each app that continue the company’s drive to have feature parity between the desktop and the mobile screen. For Excel, the big new feature is the ability to open a file that contains form controls. Form controls, as the name suggests, are when you have a form embedded into a spreadsheet. This previously could only be opened on the desktop.
For PowerPoint, a likely more useful addition than the form controls in Excel for most of us. Now in PowerPoint on Android you can send a single slide to someone. Previously you had to send the entire presentation and couldn’t send an individual slide. Again, this is something you could do on the desktop and online version of PowerPoint but now can do it on your phone or tablet.
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One of the biggest benefits to Android as a platform is its flexibility. Google, much to their credit, has made it very easy for developers – including companies that compete with them – to produce apps for Android to sell or give away. Microsoft, much to their credit too, has taken advantage of this openness. The Redmond, Washington company as certainly competed with Google and more directly Android but equally, have produced great apps that allow you to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem without too much pain. In fact, really no pain.
If you are new to Android but your personal and/or work life is surrounded by Microsoft applications, take heart. You will find that Android is more than capable of giving you a rich, powerful Microsoft experience without the sacrifices in other areas. I’m of course referring to Windows Phone. Clearly the Microsoft experience on Windows Phone was outstanding but even the apps on that now all-but-dead platform lacked when you compared them to those for Android or even iOS.
In this How To I’m going to highlight some of the key apps from Microsoft that will make your Android phone (and in most cases tablets) a solid performing and excellent user experience for those who have their digital work or personal lives in Office 365, OneDrive and other apps. While those apps are expected, it is the other apps that Microsoft offers that may be a surprise to you.
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Today’s Deal over at Amazon is on the Microsoft Office 365 Home subscription. Normally $99.99, it is down to $84.99 at the online retailer. The Home edition of Office 365 allows you to install the Office suite of apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote – on up to 5 PCs or Mac (any combination) and also comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage for your files and photos. That 1TB of storage applies to all users on the subscription so each will get 1TB. It’s a pretty sweet deal on the flagship Office offering from Microsoft.
If you already have a subscription, you can still take advantage of this deal. When you get the subscription card shipped to you, just go to your Office account and add it to your existing subscription. This will just push out your renewal date another year.
Add to this, with the Home subscription, you get full access to the Android and iOS versions of the Office apps. These apps are free on both platforms but to get all of the features, you have to have a subscription.
Today’s Deal is on the physical subscription card being shipped to you (it’s Prime eligible so it won’t cost you anything if you are a member) and not on the download version. That version is still $99.
Check it out at Amazon
Microsoft has started rolling out an update to PowerPoint for Android that has a new Shape Recognition feature. The update now gives you the option to have the app recognize any shape you draw with your finger or stylus in free form and snap that into a perfect version of that shape. So, for example, if you draw a square, with this feature enabled, you will get a perfectly formed square on your slide instead of your free form version. You can, of course, not enable this, but it is super handy and is something that until now hasn’t been in the mobile version of the app.
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