Microsoft Brings OneNote to the iPhone. Is the Rest of Office Next?

By  |  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.


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Geoff Says:

    How very odd. It appears to be available in the U.S. App Store, but not the Canadian store. What's the deal?

  2. @SoahmZ Says:

    U.S appstore is the only appstore that currently distributes the Onenote app, just like their Bing app. It feels rather dumb, since the Onenote app doesn't require any localisation, so one would think it would be available in Canada as well.

    One possible reason as to why it's only available in the US right now is the fact that Microsoft will start charging for the app in the near future ("Free for limited time," says on iTunes), so they just might be trying to get some hype going via distributing it in the US, and then start charging for it when the foreign markets start showing some itnerest.

  3. Robin Says:

    Not available in the UK store either.