The day has finally arrived. Apple lovers who just cannot part themselves from Microsoft Office now no longer need to put up with weird workarounds and troublesome third-party tools. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are now available as free, dedicated iPad apps, direct from Microsoft. For some people the idea of Microsoft software running on Apple hardware is like watching TV on the radio -- now these popular titles can all be run "properly".
For anyone using Apple's tablet, there has certainly been no shortage of office tools to choose from -- but none of them have been Office. The suite that has proved so popular on other platforms has been notable by its absence on larger-screen iOS devices for too many years, and users have been clamoring for its release. Today, prayers, dreams and demands were answered. But was it worth the wait?
In a word, yes. Why? Well, what's impressive is the way in which so many features of Office have been ported to iPad -- and this is apparent right from the start. Fire up the app and you're presented with very much the same template selection view that you'd find on your desktop or laptop.
But whether you're using a template or starting from scratch, you'll probably be pleased to find that the iPad version of Word is incredibly similar to its big brother. Toolbars are not exactly the same, but the same tabs are to be found here, and many of the familiar features that you have no doubt become used to over the years.
Of course, there is the slight difference that the interface is touch-driven, but this will not be completely alien to anyone who has works with Office in Windows RT.
Being able to use Office on a tablet is all about working on the move, and this ties in nicely with Microsoft's move to the cloud. As such, it should come as no surprise that there's built in support for OneDrive and Google Drive -- although signing into Google Drive did prove rather problematic.
When editing documents, you're not limited to just basic editing. There are more advanced options such as footnotes, and even change tracking -- great for collaborative work on the go.
Despite the familiar-looking interface and fairly standard set of tools, the iPad version of Word does still have a slightly strange feel to it. Maybe it's the iOS 7 look and feel. It's not a problem, but it does take a little getting used to.
For example, the way some dialogs appear is quite different to what we have become used to in Office 365. Take the word count pop up for instance.
"Beautiful" is a word that is applied far too readily to iOS apps. It is over-used and has lost its power. Word for iPad is certainly a good-looker; I'd go as far as saying that it's sexy rather than beautiful.
If you have an iPad and an Office 365 subscription, there's simply no reason not to give Word et al a try. The iPad keyboard is no replacement for a physical keyboard, but it's still possible to build up a reasonable turn of speed when typing, and the interface lends itself nicely to working with all manner of documents.
There will of course be complaints that it is not completely free -- an Office 365 subscription is needed to take advantage of all of the editing options. Complainers will complain. For anyone who has already invested in Office 365, these latest releases provide a way to get even better value from the cost of the subscription.
Looking forward to trying it for yourself? Head over to the App Store to grab yourself a free copy. You won’t be disappointed.