Microsoft Office (Android) review: The Office tools you need, now for all of Android

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The Good Microsoft's Word, Excel and Powerpoint Android apps have all of the key Office features, seamless OneDrive cloud storage and a familiar design.

The Bad Select advanced features are only available with an Office 365 subscription. The layout is a bit cramped on Android phones.

The Bottom Line The Office Android apps are perfect for major and minor edits on the go.


8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Interface 9
  • Performance 8

The full-featured Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps you've been waiting for have landed on Android, and they're packing all the tools you want to make edits on the go, away from your desktop. They don't have every single feature their desktop counterparts do, but they offer just enough of the right tools that you'd want to use on your phone or tablet's smaller screen. However, some features aren't available with a free account, so if you need more robust tools, you'll need an Office 365 subscription.

Though Word, Excel and Powerpoint are individual apps that you download from Google Play, I'm lumping them all together for the purposes of this review. All of them have roughly the same layout, with some differences if you're using a phone or tablet.

Note that while the Office apps offer plenty of editing tools for free, you'll need to sign in with a Microsoft account to use them. And you can unlock extra features, such as tracking changes, with an Office 365 subscription, which starts at $6.99 per month (£7, AU$12) and also gives you full versions of Office apps on PC and other mobile devices. If you happen to have an Android tablet with a screen larger than 10.1 inches, you'll need a subscription to use the apps.

Editors' note, July 17, 2015: This review has been updated to reflect the latest version of the apps.

Getting around

Office is comprised of three parts: Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Each is its own app, so you don't need to download all three if you won't even use one or two of them. However, if you frequently edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations, you'll want all three.

Though each app has its own set of features, they all look very similar with a colorful design and simple layout. The home page looks the same throughout all three apps, with variations on a tablet or phone.

On a larger screen, there's a menu on the left side with your recent documents, and to the right there's a large space dedicated to templates for new files. For smaller screens, the default view shows recently files and there's a tab for templates. These templates are a key part of the Office apps, offering pre-created layouts with rich colors and advanced formatting that would otherwise take hours to build. On a small tablet or phone screen, it's helpful to have all the hard work done for you. You can use to simply fill in the blanks with your own text, images and charts, or tweak them to your needs.

The classic Office ribbon (or menu bar) carries over from the Office desktop apps to the tablet versions. There you'll find all of the tools and formatting options in each app. Using these apps on your Android phone, the controls are split between the top and bottom of the screen, and that layout is a little less friendly than the tablet layout.

Microsoft has taken great care to make it easy to use the touchscreen to move through the apps and make edits. You can pinch to zoom, which feels very fluid, or use the zoom controls to get a particular view. You tap anywhere on the screen to select an area or cell to edit, and you can swipe the screen to move the cursor around.


Word is a word processor, a program where you can create text documents, from resumes and memos to brochures and flyers. The app includes all of the basic document tools, including fonts, page layout and formatting options -- bullet points, text alignment, and typographical emphasis. Over the years, Microsoft has fine-tuned these controls to make them as easy to use as possible.

Word gets its edge with extra features, some that carry over from the desktop edition and some specially built for the mobile app. Using Word on an Android phone, you get a reading mode that zooms in to fill the screen and helps you read quickly.

With an Office 365 subscription, you can track changes and leave comments in Word, two popular tools for anyone who collaborates on documents. You can also add text boxes, photos, charts and shapes to your documents and easily manipulate them.

You can highlight and format text, and insert shapes in each app. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET


Excel is a spreadsheet program that's useful for building charts, analyzing data and running formulas. All spreadsheets have rows, columns and cells and support formulas to crunch data. Excel has the typical tools you'll need, including text editing, equations and chart building.