Microsoft has announced several developer opportunities to extend Office 365, specifically around Outlook encompassing mail, contacts and calendar. All those initiatives focus around the business side of Microsoft’s email, contacts and calendaring, until now.
On October 30, Microsoft announced a similar initiative to have developers build apps to extend the consumer side of their email, contacts and calendaring called Apps for Outlook.com. This initiative will let developers build extensions that target a potential user base of 400 million.
In a sign of Microsoft “merging” the back-end technologies across business and consumer product lines, they also said that even though this functionality will be available only in Spring 2015, developers can start now by building apps against Outlook Web App. In other words, apps built for Outlook Web App today will work seamlessly with Outlook.com too. This is good news for developers, obviously, because now developers building productivity apps don’t have to worry about enterprise vs consumer our Outlook vs Hotmail/Outlook.com.
Some of the changes and additions in this update are:
Support for iPhone 5 and iPad Mini
Updated app icons and user experience
Works better with your photos:
Download full resolution photos to your iPhone or iPad
Control the size of photos you upload and download
Photo metadata is retained when you upload to SkyDrive
Opening and saving files to SkyDrive works better with other apps on your iOS devices
Many other small changes, bug fixes and performance improvements
Given that the last update to the app was about a year ago, this news is very welcome for those who use SkyDrive.
What was not mentioned in the change log was that the option to buy additional storage on SkyDrive has been removed. This is because as per Apple’s App Store policies, if any app provides such functionality or even a link to their own site, the company has to pay 30% fee to Apple.
In fact, it is widely believed that the app was held back from being released because the negotiations between Microsoft and Apple were not going anywhere. Microsoft was trying to convince Apple that this is a special case and they should not be charged the 30% fee for the functionality. Clearly, Apple did not budge and Microsoft had to remove the link.
However, the silver lining here is now that Microsoft has published the SkyDrive app, we may not be too far away from Office on iOS making its appearance. The generally believed theory among those who watch Microsoft is that Office on iOS (specifically, iPad) is going to be free apps with read-only functionality unless a user has a Office 365 subscription. If they sign in with their Microsoft account tied to the subscription, they will be able to edit the Office files on iPhone and iPad. Given how important the “real” Office is for consumers and enterprises alike, it is natural that Microsoft would not want to pay 30% of the entire Office 365 subscription fee to Apple. Here’s hoping there was a good deal worked out between Cupertino and Redmond so end users like us can finally see Word, Excel, PowerPoint (and wishfully thinking, Outlook) on the iPad.
Do you use SkyDrive? Do you use it on iPhone/iPad? What do you think of the latest update? Let me know!