Monday, February 1, 2016

Microsoft is taking over the Apple App Store

In my last post, I reflected on how I had realized that I was dependent upon a couple of apps by Microsoft on my iPhone/iPad.  No, that is not a typo.  Most of my frequently used apps on iOS for me are indeed Microsoft products.  Microsoft Outlook for mail, Sunrise (now owned by Microsoft ) for calendar, Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, PowerPoint for presentations, and OneNote for notetaking.

I also use a few other specialty apps from Microsoft and a few weeks ago I began to wonder just how many apps are there by the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" apple protagonist. Off to the app store I went.  I knew that the reliable way to determine the number would be to go to a known Microsoft app and click the developer name to see all apps by that developer.  Of course, the app store makes me select iPad or iPhone first.  I went to iPhone and searched for Word.  I clicked Microsoft Corporation in the developer field and waited.  The results came up and a quick bit of math gave me a total of 73.  An iPad only search came to 48.  Of course, many of these are the same app with iPad and iPhone versions but we are still talking about over 125 apps by a software company that was once viewed as Apple's biggest rival.

Nine of the apps are games, a couple more are entertainment apps and another handful are iOS versions of not so popular Microsoft apps or services such as the Groove player for music, Bing for search or even the Cortana voice controlled personal assistant.

But most of the Microsoft apps in the iOS App Store are quality apps that are must have apps for today's teachers.  Let's take the big four out of the discussion- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are must haves (and if you haven't tried Outlook on the iPhone recently, please check out my last post!).  That brings us to OneNote.  The multitude of uses for OneNote aside, this is a handy app for creating and organizing notes.  From quick notes with check boxes to hand drawn notes in the iPad version, a wide variety of information can be stored in individual, searchable notebooks.

To effectively use the Microsoft family of productivity apps, you'll definitely want to sign up for a free OneDrive account.  You can manage all of the files you'll save in this free account using the OneDrive

Office Lens is a great little app to turn your iPhone into a portable scanner.  Scan documents or whiteboards and they will be digitalized and trimmed.  Easily export them to Word, OneNote or just as pictures to your Photo Library.

Office Sway is a new way to share ideas using text, pictures and video.  Create a Sway by adding different elements and share it to anyone across the web.

If your school or district utilizes Microsoft exchange or Office 365, there are some apps just for you!.  Sharepoint users can get SharePoint Newsfeed to keep up with what is going on.  Office Delve can do the same for Office 365 users.  Outlook Groups gives Office 365 users access to their existing groups.  Microsoft Send for Office 365 lets you text anyone with an email address with the messages going to the users email account as well as too the app.

You can even improve the selfie with intelligent enhancement and noise reduction using Microsoft Selfie or translate live speech with Microsoft Translator.

It is obvious that Microsoft has realized that it is a software company and it should create software for all of its users regardless of what hardware they use.  There are a handful of Microsoft apps in the Mac apps store and Microsoft Office for the Mac is even sol in the Apple store.  Even on Android, Microsoft is making their presence known.  A quick check of the Google Play store found over eighty apps from Microsoft.  In fact, an International Business Times article just last week stated that the Office Apps have been downloaded over 340 million times on iOS and Android devices.  This is significantly more than the 200 million Windows 10 devices.  The article's author, Mike Brown, concludes that this effort to bring apps to all platforms "is paying off" as Microsoft surpassed analysts earnings expectations by almost a half a billion dollars in their most recent earnings call.

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