Microsoft Office for Android Falls Short

“Can Microsoft Do Anything Right Anymore?”

This is pretty much the first question that comes to mind considering the latest Microsoft Office apps for Android tablets.

Over the last year or so Microsoft has been considering many options to enter the Android ecosystem. From its Nokia X hybrid concept phone to the Bing lockscreen app, Microsoft works its way into the world’s most popular mobile operating system.

Through the new lineup of Office programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) Microsoft hopes to compete with solutions like Google’s suite of mobile productivity apps.

However, the mobile suite falls short of expectations.

The Office Mobile app which was released in 2013 features very limited editing and formatting support. Until recently (December 2014) the application required a Office 365 subscription to edit files. Furthermore, the app is restricted to mobile phones only and cannot be used on a tablet.

Now in January 2015 Microsoft introduces a more full-featured attempt at mobile Office. The newest applications include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as completely separate components. The individual apps allow for more advanced editing features, much like those on the desktop version.

Unfortunately, there are two major points where Microsoft seems to drop the ball with this.

A major point being the system requirements for Android.

An ARM based chipset is needed. Those with other architectures such as MIPS or x86 devices are excluded from support. This actually seems reasonable considering most Android devices are ARM based with the exception of some lower end tablets such as the Allwinner brand or other rare devices.

Also, the CPU speed must be at least 1 GHz. This is also a good requirement as most devices introduced within the last two years surpass this requirement easily.

The Office website claims the recommended amount of RAM is one gigabyte (1 GB). While most of the more recently introduced tablets and phones have more RAM, this seems like an excessive requirement just for an office program on a mobile platform.

At this time the new apps can only be installed on tablets, Microsoft has not released versions for phones.

The more unrealistic requirement is the operating system version. Microsoft only included support for Android 4.4 KitKat. This is very unreasonable considering the majority of Android devices are currently running the many versions of Jelly Bean (4.1 through 4.3). Microsoft should have stuck to the usual requirement of 4.0 or higher. This meaning those on older tablets which aren’t expecting an update to 4.4 won’t be able to run the the mobile Office apps.

As someone with a Jelly Bean tablet that will definitely not receive any new updates, I will be sticking to Google Docs for now.

The other downside is that while basic editing features are available to all users with a screen size between 7 and 10.1 inches, the “premium” features require an active Office 365 subscription. A listing of those features can be found here.

Microsoft’s office apps do not include a file browser meaning it is not possible to save files to the device’s internal storage or SD card. Although, It is possible to open downloaded documents using a third party file browser app. The only option for saving and loading files is through cloud storage with either OneDrive or Dropbox services.

In conclusion Microsoft’s latest attempt at mobile office falls short of most users expectations. Other than the advanced premium editing features, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps are a much better option for Android users. Between the high end system requirements and the premium subscription cost which starts at $69.99 for Office 365 Personal, I would recommend just avoiding Microsoft Office in general.

 

 Verizon Ellipsis 7

The Verizon Ellipsis 7 Page has been added.

Additionally, The Ellipsis 7 has received an official OTA update from Verizon Wireless which updates the Android version to 4.4.2 Kitkat and greatly improves the overall performance.

The device page will be updated to include information regarding the new update within the month.

A Look at Android L

Android-Lollipop

You may have already heard about the many changes coming in Android 5.0 “Lollipop”.

Some Developers and Enthusiasts have already had a chance to check out Android’s next major release through the Android L Developer Preview.

I took a look at the latest L preview on my Nexus 5. Here’s an overview of some of the big changes to look forward to.

 

Screenshot_2014-11-03-15-12-10

  • A bright and vibrant interface

The current interface for Android 4 is often referred to as Holo, short for holographic. The Holo design is focused towards dark gradient backgrounds with white text. The new Android 5 design which Google refers to as “Material” is quite the opposite. Material uses a pure white background with a variety of different colors.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-15-13-14

While I’m glad to see a light interface return to Android for the first time since 2.2 Froyo, the pure white screens can be somewhat blinding on newer more vivid displays. This may create some minor issues with night reading in dark environments and will cause more battery usage on devices with AMOLED screens.

  • A better lockscreen experience.

Android L adds many abilities to the device while it is locked, making it easier to do more without unlocking.

Screenshot_2014-11-05-17-24-38

One key addition is being the notification drawer is now accessible with a secure lock screen. The notification drawer can be used to change quick settings such as Wi-Fi or volume while locked. There is also now an option to only show non-sensitive notifications while locked.

  • Multiple users for phones

User Profile support has been in Android since 4.2 Jelly Bean exclusively on tablets. Initially Google did not more see than one user on a phone realistically. In Lollipop user switching has now been designed for phones. Most everyone has their own phone and tends to keep it to themselves. However, for whatever reason people may share their phone it is now a possibility.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-15-15-42

Each user gets their own lockscreen security, settings, apps, and Google account. All user data (SD card) is isolated between users and there is even a temporary guest mode.

Android L is still a pre-release and hasn’t made it out to the full Android ecosystem yet so it will be interesting to see how user profiles work on phones.

  • Battery Saver

There is a completely new battery save feature which by default enables itself at low battery levels. Battery Saver sets the navigation and status bars to orange to indicate it is enabled. Battery Saver automatically lowers the brightness, turns off most background data, disables vibration, and throttles the speed of the chipset to conserve energy.

Screenshot_2014-11-05-17-23-22

 

Since Battery Saver lowers the maximum speed of the phone some apps may run slower or show some visual lag. I wouldn’t recommend using it with intensive applications like games. Google claims it can extend the battery life by up to 90 minutes, which can definitely be useful if the battery is low and you can’t charge your phone.

  • Security Improvements

Android 5.0 brings a number of security changes to the entire platform. In the Settings menu, Google has added a new Smart Lock security that allows the user to use a bluetooth device or NFC tag to bypass the lockscreen.

Next, While I wouldn’t call it a security feature, another new feature under the security settings is Screen Pinning. This allows the user to “lock” an app onto the screen. While pinned the phone cannot switch apps. Apps can be unpinned by holding down both the back and recents keys. Unfortunately this isn’t secured with a passcode. This means that it isn’t really “secure” after all but still might be useful to prevent accidentally switching apps or as a child lock.

Finally, Google has stated that in the 5.0 release device encryption will be turned on by default. Encryption has been in Android since 3.0 Honeycomb but this is the first time it will be turned on by default.

My primary concern with this is it may prevent anti-theft solutions such as Android Device Manager from loading if the device reboots, considering encryption in past Android versions prevents the phone from booting until the passcode is entered.

Final Thoughts on Android 5.0

While I think Android 5.0 “Lollipop” is a step in the right direction, with every Android release I do feel Google always leaves something out that could make the experience better or more user friendly.

For one, it would be nice if Google could include a include a night mode which could replace the somewhat blinding white color with a more relaxing gray tone for reading in the dark.

Furthermore I wish Google had included access restrictions into user profiles. Parental Controls could be set for child profiles. Storage and data limits could also be allowed to prevent a specific profile from using too much of the data plan. Of course this could potentially require much more coding and time for Google to implement.

Google usually leaves more complex settings like this out of stock Android to prevent things from being too complicated. More specific controls like this may be invented by the custom ROM community in the future once Android 5.0 is finally released to the public.

New Design

Main Page

Main Page

Hello and Welcome to the redesigned Ultimate Phone Guide.

Ultimate Phone has migrated from MediaWiki to WordPress! This now creates a better experience for everyone. The site has been greatly improved as a whole.

The new design layout allows the view to adapt to different devices to fit desktop, tablets, and mobile browsers.

Ads have been restored to site. Revenue from advertisements funds costs and future improvements directly to Ultimate Phone Guide.

Moving forward I hope to provide the best possible reading experience for readers looking for helpful topics from all sources and locations.

The former MediaWiki website is still available at legacy.ultimatephoneguide.com

It will continue to receive only MediaWiki security update releases for the foreseeable future.

Thank you to all readers that have found my articles useful in any way.

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