The apps have a familiar interface, with the same Ribbon interface and layout. But at the same time, they're not just a port of the regular desktop version. Menus have been optimised for touch; objects can be dragged, rotated or resized with a swipe, and the interface scales properly in both portrait and landscape mode.
There's solid integration with other iOS features. You can use voice dictation to create a document, perhaps, or AirPlay to project your finished presentation.
You get plenty of functionality, too. There are templates, tables, footnotes, filters, charts, transitions and just about everything else you'll need. Everything is very configurable, formatting is preserved so documents look just as you'd expect, and you can save and share your documents via Dropbox, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.
The core free apps allow you to open or create documents, run basic editing operations or save them.
To use more advanced features, though (Pivot tables in Excel, say) you'll need an Office 365 subscription. If you have one already, no problem; you're covered for all the apps installed on a single tablet in addition to your PC if you have an Office 365 Personal subscription ($6.99 a month) or on up to five different tablets alongside your five PCs or Macs if you have the Office 365 Home sub ($9.99).
What's new in Microsoft Excel for iPad 1.2:
- Create and edit spreadsheets for FREE: all you need to do is sign in with a free Microsoft account.
- Dropbox support: open, edit, and save spreadsheets from Dropbox.
- Universal app: Excel now also runs beautifully on your iPhone and iPod touch, and is designed especially for a smaller screen.
- Chart elements: customize charts by adding or removing chart elements such as titles, legends, axis titles and more.