By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:31 am
Microsoft apps for Apple’s iPhone aren’t new–there are already ones for Live Messenger and Bing, for instance–but it’s still noteworthy when the world’s biggest software company releases software for the phone made by its most venerable archrival. And today Microsoft is releasing a version of its OneNote note-taking app for the iPhone–the first time that any Microsoft Office program has arrived on iOS.
OneNote for iPhone syncs with OneNote’s other incarnations on Windows, on the Web, and on Windows Phone 7. (It does so using Microsoft’s SkyDrive online storage service, and you need a Live ID to use the app.) It’s easy to use and has basic note-taking features, including the ability to add photos and checklist items. It does feel more like a complement to OneNote’s other versions than a fully autonomous app–I don’t see any way to create a new notebook, for instance–and it certainly doesn’t compete with the 800-pound gorilla of note-taking, EverNote, in terms of features and supported platforms. But OneNote users who have iPhones should be pleased to have access to their jottings on the go, and it’s good to see the app arrive on the single most important smartphone platform. (Microsoft says it plans to update the software as time goes on.)
The most intriguing thing about OneNote for the iPhone is the fact that it brings a little bit of Microsoft Office to iOS for the first time. There have been rumors in the past that Microsoft was considering releasing a version of Office for the iPhone and/or iPad, but this is the first tangible proof that the company doesn’t think it’s self-destructive to put part of Office on an Apple mobile device rather than preserve it for Windows Phone 7, which includes mobile versions of OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook as standard equipment.
So are the other Office apps on their way to iOS? It’s not a pressing question given that both Docs to Go and Quickoffice give Office users Office-compatible iOS apps already. But when I asked Microsoft Senior Director Jason Bunge about whether OneNote was a hint of more Office to come, he didn’t pre-announce anything but he did say that Microsoft wanted to give Office to its customers in the way they want, on the devices they use, and that it plans to release more products based on that philosophy. I chose to take that as a promising sign–at least a lot more so than if he’d given me the standard disclaimer about refusing to discuss future plans at all. (I also asked him whether there’d be an iPad-specific version of OneNote; in that case, he did simply say that he had no news.)
If you check out OneNote Mobile for iPhone, let us know what you think.