Sure, there’s a basic version of Office for Android phones, but heavy Office users might be looking with jealousy at iOS’s new touch-optimized version that works on the iPad. According to The Verge, Microsoft is preparing a new version of Office for Android, and is currently seeking beta-testers through a special pre-release program, ahead of a likely release later this year.
CEO Satya Nadella implied an Android version for tablets was in development when Office for iPad launched earlier this year. The current version of Office for Android is fairly bare bones: it doesn’t work on tablets at all and lacks any kind of local storage — so you wouldn’t be able to edit a document on a plane that has no internet service, for instance.
It’s expected the new Android version will require a Office 365 subscription to edit documents and will be heavily dependent on Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. The new Android version would also likely share design elements with Office for iOS, which featured a redesigned touch interface when it was released earlier this year.
Earlier this week, Google announced its intention to pull its Microsoft Office-compatible QuickOffice suite from both major app stores in the “coming weeks.” However, it added Office file format support to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, the Google Drive-compatible apps that replaced them.
While the sign-up option for the Android Office beta does not appear to be public, you can express interest in for Office pre-release programs in general at Microsoft’s Sharepoint site.