Microsoft: Office is all set for Apple's iPad Pro and more

On Apple's new iPad Pro, Office users can run Excel and PowerPoint side by side. Meanwhile, Apple Watch owners can check their Outlook email and appointments.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Viewing two apps side by side is one of the benefits for Office users who buy the new iPad Pro. Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface tablets and Apple's iPads may be rivals, but that doesn't mean Microsoft has nothing good to say about the iPad.

On Wednesday, Microsoft touted updates to its Office software that will be handy for users of the big new iPad Pro, as well as the Apple Watch.

Apple's iPad Pro , unveiled Wednesday, adds multitasking, or the ability to view and run more than one app at a time. Using the split-view mode, you can see two apps side by side, which comes in handy for Office users who may want to run Excel and PowerPoint together. It can also be of value to those who want to keep their Outlook email open and viewable at the same time they work on a Word document or PowerPoint presentation.

Apple is proud of the iPad Pro's hardware specs, including a beefy 12.9-inch screen, a Retina display, a powerful processor and about 10 hours of battery life. But a key theme in its presentation Wednesday was productivity, which is why Microsoft was invited to demo Outlook features on the device. Users who shell out the $799 or more on an iPad Pro need to know they'll be able to work on it efficiently, which means the old rivals' products need to work well together.

The following example, cited by Microsoft's Office Team in a blog post late Wednesday, shows the benefits of being able to run Outlook with another Office app:

Tap on a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file attached to an email message and Outlook will automatically launch the corresponding app with the file ready for editing, right next to Outlook. While you edit the Word document, you can still view the email message. After your edits are made, tap the back button in Word and the document will be attached to a new email message in Outlook, ready to be sent.

Beyond the split-view mode, the iPad Pro lets users more easily highlight and mark up documents, especially useful when collaborating with other people, Apple says. Microsoft is adding an inking feature to its Office apps, which includes pens, highlighters, a thickness control and a color wheel. Even further, iPad Pro users who buy the $99 Apple Pencil will be able to mark up their documents more quickly and intuitively using the styluslike device, Apple says.

With the updated Office apps for the iPhone and iPad, your search results will now include OneNote notes and Outlook emails. Your OneNote notes will pop up whether they've been typed, handwritten or scanned, according to the Office team. And Office users who opt for the iPad Pro and the new wireless Smart Keyboard will be able see a list of keyboard shortcuts by tapping the Command key.

Apple Watch owners should expect to see improvements to both Outlook and Microsoft's Translator app. Version 2 of Apple's WatchOS will allow you to view details about your Outlook incoming email and appointments right on the face of the watch. And with the watch's Time Travel feature, you'll be able to turn the Digital Crown to check your future appointments.

Finally, users of the Microsoft Translator app for the Apple Watch will be able to listen to a recent or pinned translation. When you're in another country, you'll be able to view common phrases in the native language based on your location and time of day, Microsoft says. And using Time Travel, you'll be able to see foreign-language phrases that you could use later that day or night.

New versions of Microsoft's Office apps and Translator will launch at the same time the new iPad Pro, iOS 9 and WatchOS 2 are available. The iPad Pro will land in stores in November, while iOS 9 and WatchOS 2 will both roll out on Wednesday, September 16.