Microsoft appears to be fully embracing iOS with a slew of new apps including SkyDrive, Xbox Live, OneNote for iPad, and even an iOS app version of Kinectimals, the popular Xbox 360 Kinect children’s’ game. It’s about time.
It has been a very busy week for Microsoft on the iOS front. On Tuesday, it rolled out a new and improved OneNote app for the iPhone, along with a dedicated iPad version. OneNote is one of the more popular Microsoft products, and it is a great tool for taking notes and organising projects.
The update to the iPhone app includes performance and reliability imrpovements, and adds the ability to view tables. The ability to automatically sync information between my PC, iPhone and iPad makes OneNote much more valuable. The one thing that might keep me on Evernote is that Microsoft doesn’t include OneNote in the Mac OS X version of Microsoft Office, so my MacBook Air isn’t invited to the OneNote party.
Microsoft followed up today with the launch of a SkyDrive app for iOS. Unfortunately, the SkyDrive app only comes in an iPhone version, so it is relegated to an iPhone-sized square in the middle of the display, or a crappy, pixelated version that fills the screen. Neither are great. I am not a fan of using iPhone apps on an iPad, and really wish Microsoft would’ve developed a dual-purpose app, or separate iPad version.
In terms of its functionality, the SkyDrive app seems capable enough. I can create new folders, and upload pictures or videos directly from my iPhone or iPad to SkyDrive. I can share files from SkyDrive by sending a link, and allow the recipient to just view the file, or choose to also grant the ability to edit it as well.
Overall, the SkyDrive app is very similar to the features and capabilities of the latest version of the Box app that was launched last week. Box is still more versatile and functional, though, because it allows me to open my files in other apps like Pages, or DocsToGo so I can work with them on the iPhone or iPad.
In addition to productivity tools like OneNote and SkyDrive, Microsoft also launched the My Xbox Live app last week, and it has created an iOS app version of Kinectimals. The goal seems to be to expand the Microsoft experience so that you can continue to use and enjoy Microsoft products regardless of the mobile platform you choose. Sure, Microsoft would rather you use Windows Phone 7 smartphones, and Windows 8 tablets, but if you’re going to use a different mobile platform, at least continue using Microsoft software.
For what it’s worth, I’d like to see more openness in the other direction as well. It is great that Microsoft is embracing iOS, but it would also be nice if Microsoft would provide more hooks to enable third-party apps to integrate into the core functionality of Windows Phone 7. Give users the option of using SkyDrive from an iPad, or using Box from a Windows Phone 7 smartphone, and let the apps and services compete on an even playing field.
Microsoft – if you’re listening – you should invest the same effort in extending the Microsoft environment to Android smartphones and tablets. Oh, and when can I expect Microsoft Office for my iPad?