Tuesday, 27 October 2020 21:57

Microsoft brings trackpad and mouse support to Office for iPad

What the Office for iPad start screen experience looks like What the Office for iPad start screen experience looks like

It has taken Microsoft a few months, but the software behemoth has finally decided to start rolling out mouse and trackpad support to Office for iPad users in a phased rollout that will take about two weeks.

The iPad's journey from what was incorrectly seen as "just" a consumption device to a fully fledged alternative to a Windows PC or Mac continues accelerating, with the world's most popular Office suite finally allowing iPad users to make full use of the mouse and trackpad support that iOS 14 now offers.

From the entry-level iPad, through to the brand new iPad Air, and right through to the powerful iPad Pros, Office for iPad continues evolving to offer an ever more advanced Microsoft Office experience, with Microsoft making some great announcements.

The new comes forth from an official Microsoft blog post, written by Bill Doll, the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Office Apps Strategy at Microsoft

In the post, Doll writes: "At Microsoft we are committed to making sure Microsoft 365 users have the best experience possible on any technology platform they use. For us this means not only finding general innovation that spans across all Microsoft 365 solutions, but also adapting the experience for the new and powerful capabilities of each platform and device.

"We know the Office experience on iPad is an important tool for the many people who use it to work, learn and create. The latest iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad models have introduced powerful new features and capabilities to enable people to be productive in more ways. Accordingly, we have made several updates to the Office apps to take advantage of these enhancements and make it even easier to work on iPad.

"The Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps are now receiving updates to take full advantage of trackpad support in iPadOS to give iPad users using a mouse or Apple’s new Magic Keyboard easy cursor control, fluid navigation, and precise adjustments. When moving a finger across the built-in trackpad of Magic Keyboard, the cursor transforms into the tool you need depending on the content you’re pointing to.

"And using a mouse or trackpad with iPad for common tasks like highlighting a passage of text in Word, selecting a range of cells in Excel, and moving and resizing graphics in PowerPoint are as simple and intuitive as ever. This experience will be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever used Office on a Mac or a PC and helps make iPad even more versatile and capable for getting more work done".

Bill then writes of the "Updated Start Screens and Ribbon", and states: "We are updating the overall user experience in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with new start screens and a new ribbon of feature menus. These enhancements provide a cleaner and more modern user experience which has proven to help people more easily find what they need and focus on the task at hand. These updates reflect the recent design enhancements we’ve been making with our Fluent UI which you’ll see across the Microsoft 365 experience.

"Many users have already started receiving these updates through a phased roll-out, which should reach all users within a couple weeks.

"These updates are just the latest in a series of improvements we continue to make to the Office experience designed to take advantage of the unique capabilities of iPad, such as its large Multi-Touch display, and versatile accessories, including the ability to open multiple documents in Word and PowerPoint, the new keyboard shortcuts which were released this summer and fall, and additional updates which you will see over the next few months such as multiple document support in Excel, powerful contextual menus, and offline file support for cloud files".

So, there you have it. If you're and iPad user and you haven't yet tried using a Bluetooth mouse, Apple's official Trackpad, a third-party trackpad or Apple's own stunning Magic Keyboard, you're absolutely missing out, and you must try using an iPad in this way - it's a really great experience.

And now, if you're an Office for iPad user, you can finally enjoy the full benefits of trackpad and mouse usage too, along with all the ways that the Apple Pencil enhances the experience also.

The Office for iPad start screen - Word

Office for iPad - Excel with two spreadsheet files open at the same time

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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