Microsoft's Android Launcher Connects to Office 365

The updated Arrow launcher app provides users with faster access to Office content and helps stretch battery life.

Microsoft Arrow

Arrow, Microsoft's smart launcher app for Android smartphones, now features a Documents screen that offers users near-immediate access to users' Office content.

"You no longer need to email important documents to yourself to be accessible on the go," commented Daniel Chu, a Microsoft Office Experience team leader, in a June 30 blog post. After users sign into their Office 365 accounts, Arrow's new Documents screen allows them to view, edit and share their Word files, Excel spreadsheets and other Office documents stored on the cloud.

Office integrations are not new to Microsoft's mobile app efforts. In February, the company released Hub Keyboard for Android from its experimental app hub dubbed Microsoft Garage. Hub Keyboard adds a clipboard, language translation, access to cloud-based Office 365 content, along with document search and sharing to an on-screen keyboard.

A year ago, Microsoft closed a major gap in its Office mobile app portfolio by finally porting its Office apps to Android smartphones. Available on Android tablets for several months prior, in May 2015 the software giant released versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that were tailored to the comparatively smaller screens on Android smartphones. "The Office apps combine the familiar look, feel and quality of Office with a touch-friendly experience designed for Android phones," said Jared Spataro, general manager of Microsoft Office 365 marketing, at the time.

Arrow, which also hails from Microsoft Garage, has proved popular among users of Google's mobile operating system. Currently carrying a 4.3-point rating (out of five stars), Arrow has been installed between 1 million and 5 million times, according to the app's listing in the Google Play store.

The app personalizes the Android experience, configuring its interface to match the device's usage patterns. As an alternative to the stock home screen, Arrow automatically arranges apps based on how often they are used. For example, avid Uber riders can expect the car-hailing app to float to the top of the app picker.

The app's People screen similarly prioritizes contacts, offering one-swipe access to calling, text messaging and email. Arrow's Recent screen gathers new photos and downloads, along with recent apps and contacts.

The Reminders feature syncs with Wunderlist, enabling users to manage their to-do lists on multiple devices. Finally, a quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen displays popular settings, similar to the task tray in iOS, along with a user's favorite apps.

In addition to helping users keep tabs on their Office content, version 2.0 of the app can also help users eke out more battery life. "We have also added several performance tweaks to make Arrow consume even less battery power, and be more responsive and faster than ever," said Chu.

According to Microsoft, the app's network usage has been slashed by 50 percent, placing less of a burden on users' cellular data plans. Finally, Arrow now offers a new selection of built-in wallpapers.

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...