Microsoft Boosts Office Mobile and Cloud Collaboration

A fresh round of updates to the Office Mobile app on Android and Office Online increases the ways users can get work done together.

Microsoft Office Mobile for Android

Microsoft, eager to put the days of email attachments behind, announced new updates today that help Office users collaborate on files without venturing into their inboxes.

First, is a new release of the Office Mobile app for Android handsets. The updated app makes "it easier to access, edit and share online Office files from your Android phone" with the addition of sharing links, said the Office 365 Team in a Nov. 20 Office Blogs post.

The new sharing feature works similarly to the way popular online cloud services like Dropbox and Microsoft's own OneDrive generate a URL that points to a given file. Users can then email the link instead of attaching the file to an email or making arrangements for a file transfer.

Now, that functionality has been added to the Android phone Office Mobile app.

"With this release, we are adding the ability to generate and share links to documents in your OneDrive and OneDrive for Business right within the app," wrote the Microsoft staffers. "To share a link, simply open a document from your OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, tap on the context menu, tap Share and then choose Email as link."

The app also includes support for Dropbox, a cloud storage competitor that cozied up to Microsoft earlier this month.

On Nov. 4, the companies announced that they would integrate their services, enabling their joint customers to edit, sync and share Office files seamlessly. "In our mobile-first and cloud-first world, people need easier ways to create, share and collaborate, regardless of their device or platform," Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement at the time.

"Together, Microsoft and Dropbox will provide our shared customers with flexible tools that put them at the center for the way they live and work today," he continued.

After making an appearance on the Office apps for iOS, Dropbox enables Android phone users to add Dropbox as a cloud storage option, browse files and edit files within the app. In keeping with the collaborative theme, the app also supports Dropbox file sharing.

On the Office Online front, Microsoft introduced a new Skype-powered co-authoring feature. Users can employ the Skype document chat feature to work collaboratively on the cloud-enabled, browser-based versions of two signature Office applications.

"Document chat is now available when collaborating with others in real time in Word and PowerPoint," wrote Nelson Siu, an Office Shared Experiences program manager, in a separate blog post today. "Simply click the Chat button to begin chatting with everyone working in the document."

The conversation doesn't necessarily have to end when the job is done. "Continue to chat with those same people after leaving the document via Skype on your desktop or phone," he said. "Know when your team is working on the document and chime in."

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 network of...