Microsoft Readies Office for iPad Pro

The iPad Pro won't ship until November, but Microsoft is already preparing for Apple's productivity-focused tablet.

Microsoft Office

On Sept. 9, Apple unveiled the iPad Pro, along with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, all running iOS 9, during a media event in San Francisco.

About a half an hour into the presentation, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, took the stage to briefly show off the Office experience on the iPad Pro and with Apple's new stylus, the Pencil. "At Microsoft, we're focused on reinventing productivity to help people do their best work anywhere they're working," he said. "And today, more than ever, we are supporting Microsoft Office on Apple platforms."

What followed was a live demonstration of Word's new inking support, multitasking with Word and Excel, and PowerPoint's shape recognition technology, which converts scribbles into polished graphical objects like arrows, circles and roughly 20 other object types. Koenigsbauer concluded the demo by asserting that Microsoft believes "that bringing together the iPad Pro with Microsoft Office—the ink, the multitasking capabilities—will really transform the way people work on these kinds of devices."

Over at Office Blogs, the Office group went into further detail on what Microsoft has in store for its Office apps when iOS 9 and the iPad Pro arrive.

Building off iOS 9's multitasking capabilities, Outlook will automatically launch the Word, Excel or PowerPoint app right next to the email client when users tap the corresponding attachment. "While you edit the Word document, you can still view the email message. After your edits are made, tap the back button in Word and the document will be attached to a new email message in Outlook, ready to be sent," blogged the Office Team.

Apple Pencil buyers will be able to use the new stylus to supplement their Office-based mobile workflows.

"The new tools include pens, highlighters, an easy-to-use thickness control and a new color wheel. Using Apple Pencil, you can mark up documents just like you would with pencil and paper—making the collaboration process natural and intuitive," informed the Microsoft staffers.

In addition, using the iPhone's or iPad's built-in search will surface results based on OneNote notes and Outlook email messages, the company said. "The OneNote content can be typed, handwritten or scanned—and even Outlook messages with Rights Management protection appear in search results."

On the Apple Watch, Outlook will support WatchOS 2's newly expanded "Complications" feature, which displays noteworthy information from apps on the smartwatch's face. Outlook integrates with the technology to display information on upcoming appointments and incoming emails. With a twist of the watch's digital crown, users can scroll through information on other appointments.

Office isn't the only Microsoft software being updated for iOS 9.

The company pledged that Intune, a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) platform, will support the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system from the get-go. New capabilities include AirDrop and iCloud Photo content-sharing restrictions, Library Exchange ActiveSync v16 support and more robust app whitelisting, among other business-friendly features.

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...