Apple's event on Wednesday was standard fare. The event was littered with announcements delivered by a monotony of speakers. It shocked many to see and hear that Apple decide to backtrack on a keyboard and a stylus (err, Pencil) for its larger, multitasking-capable iPad, the iPad Pro – essentially turning Apple's new tablet into a Surface look-alike. Except, of course, the iPad Pro doesn't support USB, multiple-monitors, a mouse, or a docking station, and it runs an operating system designed for a mobile device. It's interesting that while Microsoft is moving to a single OS across all its devices, Apple is moving in the exact opposite direction. My how times have changed.
Some were surprised, however, to see a Microsoft representative take the stage to deliver demos of Office. And, whether or not this is evidence of a new Microsoft or a new Apple, it does signify a significant change that has been brewing since Satya Nadella took over leadership of Microsoft. I've said it before, but Office is Microsoft's Trojan horse, allowing the company to sneak behind battlements and surprise the competition from within.
When the iPad Pro and iOS9 are available, Microsoft is already with enhanced features to take advantage of the new UI and feature additions. Here's what to expect:
Multitasking on the iPad – the iPad Pro will offer multitasking. Not a true multitasking environment, but the iPad Pro will give users the ability to run apps side-by-side (split screen). Office supports this using Slide Over (open a second app without leaving the first), using two Office apps simultaneously, opening email attachments in a second window, and allowing a second app to run snapped to the screen, invisible during a PowerPoint presentation.
Inking – Apple is offering an additional $99 add-on for the iPad Pro, called the Pencil. It's basically what we've come to know already as a stylus, but allows iPad Pro users to now also write and draw on the tablet. Office includes pens, highlighters, an easy-to-use thickness control and a new color wheel.
Intelligent Search – Office for iPad (and iPhone) integrates with the iOS search function, allowing users to locate OneNote notes and Outlook email messages.
During the event, Apple also announced that WatchOS2 would release shortly. This is the second iteration of the OS that runs the Apple Watch hardware. So, Microsoft is ready there, too, with updates and enhancements to Outlook and Translator.
Microsoft promises that the updates to Office will be ready when the iPad Pro and iOS9 are available.
Also, coming this month, Microsoft is set to release Office 2016 for Windows.