Microsoft Gives iPhone, iPad Users Access to Office Insider Program

Microsoft's Office Insider is now open to users of Apple iPhone and iPad users as well as users of Windows PCs, Windows Mobile and Android devices.

Office Insider Program

In another "mobile-first" move, Microsoft has extended its early access program for the Office productivity suite to iPhone and iPads users.

"The Office Insider program is now available for iPhone and iPad, building on the program's expansion over the last year and more," wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, in a Jan. 24 blog post. "Leveraging Apple's TestFlight program, Office Insider for iPhone and iPad offers early access to builds of Word, Excel and PowerPoint at the Insider Fast level."

TestFlight is Apple's beta testing program for iOS, watchOS and tvOS app developers, allowing them to gather feedback and instruct users on which parts of the app to stress test.

"This is best for Insiders who want to use the earliest preview builds—released more frequently—and who don't mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds to identify issues and provide feedback to help make Office great," Koenigsbauer continued.

The expansion comes a year after Microsoft opened to the door to its Office 365 testing program for Apple Mac users. As Office Insiders, participants can get an early glimpse of the new features and capabilities Microsoft has planned for its cloud-enabled Office 365 software suite and its client applications. Moreover, it helps businesses prepare for upcoming software changes and avoid unexpected incompatibilities.

The addition of iOS to Office Insider rounds out the program, which is also open to Windows PC, Windows Mobile and Android users. Since it relies on Apple's TestFlight technology with more than 2,000 testers, the Windows Insider participation on iOS availability is limited, cautioned Koenigsbauer.

Over on the Android front, Microsoft announced a new integration that gives Word and PowerPoint users more camera capture options.

The company has integrated some Office Lens capabilities into Microsoft Word and PowerPoint on Android. Office Lens is essentially an app that turns smartphones into pocket document scanners.

Now users can snap a picture of a whiteboard from directly within those apps and apply its cropping and enhancement features before incorporating them into their Word documents or PowerPoint presentations.

Microsoft is working on bringing the feature to Excel on Android, Koenigsbauer. The company also plans to add Office Lens' optical character recognition and document capture capabilities in future updates.

Recently, Microsoft provided an update on the availability of Focused Inbox for Windows PCs.

A popular feature in the Outlook apps for iOS and Android, Focused Inbox analyses how users engage with email and surfaces messages from bosses, colleagues and other high-value senders. Originally announced last summer for Outlook 2016, the new year arrived without any sign of Focused Inbox for Windows PCs.

In a Jan. 20 update to the original announcement, Microsoft's Outlook team wrote that although the company had "completed the Focused Inbox feature, we still have some work to complete to deliver the update to Outlook 2016 for Windows." Mac and Outlook.com users can expect to see the feature by April, the same month the Windows 10 Creators Update rollout begins.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...