In other words, these apps aren't just for quick edits anymore. There are great starting points here for just about any project. Even if you started a document on your desktop, you can edit directly from the apps and never worry about losing formatting or style because you're using the same tools on mobile.
Many more features than before
The original app I mentioned earlier only let you view documents if you didn't have a subscription, and only let you make minor edits and changes if you did have one. With this new suite of apps you have tons more you can do.
Word comes with 24 templates, but once inside a document you can add shapes, images, charts, tables, footnotes and lots more by navigating through the menus at the bottom. So even though there are templates for newsletters, for example, you could start completely from scratch and bring in images and other art to make your newsletter stand out.
You also have the ability in the latest version to track changes (great for editors), and collaborate with someone else on the same document by sending an email with a link, send the file itself, or send a PDF version.
Excel lets you create and edit spreadsheets with all the features your used to including charts, graphs, tables, PivotTables, sparklines, and several other methods to present your data. It also has a keyboard made specifically for formulas, giving you a calculator-like number pad so you can enter formulas quickly.
In PowerPoint, I already mentioned that it has a ton of themes and custom slides that fit with those themes. But you also can create slide transitions with several options, create animations within your presentation, and it offers a Presenter View where you can enter notes (that don't show up on screen) to help you outline what to say while your presentation plays.
In other words, you get a much more complete Office package with these new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with a subscription to Office 365. But you can still make basic edits and changes on the go without spending a dime.
Store your projects in more places
With a free Microsoft Live account, you automatically get 15GB of free space on OneDrive -- Microsoft's cloud service -- where you can save and open documents across your devices.
This latest version also adds Dropbox support to all devices, so between the two services, those who want to make basic edits can easily get by on storage space using the free versions of each service.
Syncing isn't perfect
With the Microsoft Office apps for iOS, it seems a little bit hit or miss. In my testing, sometimes I was able to save a document on my iPhone and view changes that I made right away on my iPad, but at other times it didn't work. I'm not sure if it's a problem with OneDrive or something else, but until Microsoft smooths out the experience, I would make sure the changes show up on the receiving device before leaving the device where the work originated.
Though the free versions are limited, the separate iPhone Office apps are welcome additions. They let you do more than you could with the previous Office for iOS app, and they're free for basic edits without having a subscription. They're also optimized for iPhone with menus and features built for navigating and reading documents on the smaller screen.
By breaking out the apps and offering free versions for iPhone to add to the iPad apps, Microsoft has effectively made the Office apps a viable alternative to Apple's iWork suite, giving you another option for productivity on the go.
Whether you get a subscription to unlock all the power features is up to you, but if you download the free versions and see how familiar and easy they are to use, I think you might consider signing up for a subscription.