After the launch of it’s own Windows Phone operating system it was easy for Microsoft to sort-of ignore the iPhone and Android. Sure, it still had to make basic apps in case Windows Phone didn’t take off, but these apps weren’t as good as their Windows Phone counterparts, and Microsoft wasn’t in a hurry to make sure they were. In the last year, all of that changed.
Suddenly, Microsoft is taking every mobile ecosystem seriously. The are Microsoft-made iPhone and iPad apps for just about everything. What’s more, most of these apps are just as good as what users get on Windows Phone – and in some cases, even better. Here are 7 Microsoft Apps that every iPhone user should have installed on their device – even if they’re not necessarily fans of Microsoft or its Windows PCs.
If you’re thinking about storing documents and pictures online, you have to be considering Microsoft’s OneDrive service. Formally named, SkyDrive, the service allows users to store almost anything on Microsoft’s servers. Microsoft then makes that stuff available through tons of apps. OneDrive is built into Windows and Winnows Phone, but there are first-class apps for Mac, iPhone and the web.
Microsoft gives every user 15GB of OneDrive store to start with and boosts that for things like referring friends. It also throws in more storage when iPhone users turn on automatic Camera Roll uploading. With Camera Roll uploading every picture you take on your iPhone is uploaded to Microsoft’s servers as a back up, nearly effortlessly.
Minecraft Pocket Edition is easily one of the most popular smartphone games ever released. Like the PC version, it’s part sandbox. You build a fort or area of some kind and wait until it gets dark and creepers attack. Microsoft purchased the game and its developer last year, making Minecraft one of the most important of the companies offerings on the iPhone.
For years, Microsoft insisted that it had a plan for Microsoft Office. Originally, buying a Windows Phone was the only way to get Office on anything other than a Windows PC and Mac. Then Office 365 happened and iPhone owners could download mobile versions of Microsoft Office for the same $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.
All of that changed last year when Microsoft unleashed a full plate of Microsoft Office offerings. Today, Apple’s iPad and iPhone both have fairly complete versions of Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel. What’s more, Microsoft makes all of them available at no charge. Users can still purchase an Office 365 upgrade for more options if they choose.
Microsoft’s Outlook desktop app is synomous with productivity. Large businesses and enterprises use Outlook to power their entire email experiences. Small business owners and users at home rely on it to keep their personal email and calendar organized and up to date. Until recently, there was no Outlook companion app for mobile devices. Instead, Microsoft encouraged users to sign up for Outlook.com, it’s renamed and revamped Outlook service.
To be clear, Microsoft is still doing that, but it’s tethered the service to a new Outlook for iPhone ap. The company designed the app using new code acquired by Accompli, a successful iPhone and Android developer with a decent email app already available. The new Outlook for iPhone connects to Outlook.com, but also lets users connect Yahoo, Gmail nd more. Very accessible gestures and a Focused Inbox that lets users stay on task make it the best mobile mail app there is on iPhone.
By now you’ve heard of Bing, the world’s second largest search engine. Bing doesn’t come close to getting the street credit Google does, but it has advantages. For one, there’s a terrific search experience in Bing for iPhone. iPhone users who use Bing as their search engine earn points that they can use for Microsoft Account credit, movie tickets and Starbucks.
A lot of features have made their way to Microsoft’s Xbox One console over the last few years, but none of them are as essential as Xbox SmartGlass. Even before it’d released the Xbox One, Microsoft was telling stories about how the Xbox SmartGlass app would be a core companion for any Xbox One owner. It promised that users would be able to use their iPhones as a control. It insisted that entertainment lovers would enjoy finding out more about the movies they watched on their television.
It delivered. Today, Xbox SmartGlass for the iPhone is essential. The app gives iPhone owners direct access to Xbox Live game clips, and the Xbox Store. Additionally, there’s a OneGuide area for quickly switching between channels. In countries other than the United States, SmartGlass offers live TV streaming.
Xbox SmartGlass is easily one of the best things to come out of Microsoft’s changed approach to gaming and mobile entertainment. It’s a must-have for an Xbox One owners.
Finally, there’s the latest additions to Microsoft’s line of iPhone and iPad apps: MSN. Reborn as life style apps, each offers access to MSN’s wealth of content without having to dive into a browser. For news fans there’s MSN News, a news app and reader. For stock junkies there’s MSN Money. MSN Sports and MSN Health & Fitness complete the experience. Each is available completely free.