Microsoft Office Sets Up Shop on Apple's New iPad Pro

Get ready for split-screen productivity. Microsoft updates its Office apps to take advantage of the new iPad Pro's multitasking capabilities.

Microsoft Office on iPad Pro

Apple's iPad Pro, the larger, more business-friendly version of the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker's popular tablet, is finally on sale to the general public. Not missing a beat, Microsoft released updated Office apps that exploit the iPad Pro's larger screen size.

"As we announced in September, we have optimized Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote apps for the iPad Pro," Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, said in a Nov. 11 announcement. "Starting today, these Office apps are now available and take full advantage of new multitasking features, so you can be productive on your iPad Pro right away."

The apps support the new Split View feature in iOS 9, enabling users to work on two Office files at the same time.

"For example, you can analyze your business results in Excel and update the corresponding chart in PowerPoint, so you can see your data and presentation side by side," Koenigsbauer said. "Alternatively, you can review an email attachment and make the required changes to a related Word document right away."

The updated Office apps also support the Slide Over feature, which allows users to launch apps in a smaller pane without exiting the current app. "Slide Over provides a user-invoked overlay view on the right side of the screen (or on the left side in a right-to-left language version of iOS) that lets a user pick a secondary app to view and interact with," explained Apple in its developer documentation.

Koenigsbauer foresees users switching their focus between Office apps on their iPad Pros as they progress through their workday. "You can easily review your email and add an important list to a OneNote notebook or create a sales presentation and quickly send an email to your team reminding them of the upcoming client pitch meeting," Koenigsbauer said.

Microsoft may be an early supporter of the iPad Pro's multitasking capabilities—Koenigsbauer demoed the new Office experience during Apple's splashy Sept. 9 hardware event in San Francisco—but Office already faces competition on the iPad Pro.

Meanwhile, iWork, Apple's suite of productivity apps, was updated last month with Split View, Slide Over and Picture in Picture support. The latter feature displays video and other content in a resizable window that can be repositioned.

"While using FaceTime or watching a video, press the Home button and your video screen scales down to a corner of your display. Tap to open a second app, and your video continues to play—even while you use the other app. So keep watching your favorite TV show while you reply to the email that just came in," said Apple on its Website.

Even Google is getting in on the act.

In October, the company announced Split View support in its Translate app for Apple iOS. The app now allows users to view instant translations of text they are viewing or typing.

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...