Editing in Office Web Apps but no saving into SharePoint yet, writes Loryan Strant.
When Office 365 was released Microsoft made a pledge that it would support the popular browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Firefox and Safari support was there from day one however the Safari browser you see on a Mac is different from the version you see on an iPhone or iPad.
Office 365 users could really only view documents rather than edit them while using Apple’s smartphone and tablet on iOS4.
Google Apps, with its browser-based approach, has allowed users to edit documents from any device for some time. With iOS5 the playing field is now a little more level.
One of the major hangups of Office Web Apps on an iPad is that while you could view the document the onscreen keyboard wouldn’t work so you couldn’t actually edit it.
With iOS5 this is no longer an issue.
Through Office Web Apps you can write a document in Word, edit cells in Excel and change the text in PowerPoint slides. Effectively what you get access to is a cut-down version of the full product.
In Word the key things such as text formatting and styles are available as well as the ability to insert tables, clip art and links.
In Excel you can browse between worksheets, sort and filter, and format columns and numbers. However, things such as AutoSum are not available. One of the recent updates in the Excel Web App is the ability for multiple people to edit spreadsheets simultaneously and this feature comes through to the iPad.
In PowerPoint you have the ability to really only perform basic edits, however you do have the ability you can work with one of my much-beloved features: SmartArt!
For Office 365 users the iPad is no longer just for consuming information, you can create documents with it too. You’re unlikely to write long documents on an iPad but at least you can make changes to documents instead of having to wait until you get back into the office.
With iOS5 you can now navigate around the SharePoint interface just as if you were using a Windows computer.
You can create sites and libraries, change permissions and properties on items, interact with surveys and out-of-the-box functionality. Drop-down menus are also generally fine, however it comes down to pressing in the right area so as not to click on the actual link (especially in the case of top-level sites with sub-sites listed in the global navigation).
Obviously as you’re not using a normal computer the ability to copy or upload files is not available.
Updates for Office Web Apps
Microsoft recently released updates to Office Web Apps which included the ability to print directly from a Web App. This only works if you have an AirPrint-capable printer, however. AirPrint is an Apple technology which has been public for a short time, which means your printer is unlikely to have it if you bought it before (northern) autumn 2011.
Some of the other Office Web App features include: OneNote Web App Ink display, merge and autofit cells in Excel Web App, right-click menus in Excel Web App (not available on the iPad), as well as general speed and reliability improvements.
Reminders or Tasks
iPads have been able to synchronise email, calendar and contacts with Office 365 but not Tasks and Notes. Unfortunately iOS 5 doesn’t yet bring the ability to synchronise Notes from Outlook but it does let you sync Tasks (or as Apple calls them, “Reminders”).
On your iPhone or iPad running iOS5 you should now see the Reminders app. Reminders creates a separate list for tasks in Office 365 and updates changes between Microsoft’s cloud platform and Apple’s tablet within a couple of seconds.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.