Microsoft wants to integrate its Office 365 productivity suite even closer with Android. “Hub Keyboard,” which launched on Tuesday, brings an all-in-one keyboard for Google’s OS that offers quick access to text clips, translations, contacts and Office 365 documents for placing into messages.
A user who wants to quickly send a document to a friend via text, for example, can simply tap a button and select it from a list. The recipient will then get a web link to view it online.
The keyboard, with simple document access, makes using the Microsoft Office suite on mobile even easier. The company offers Word, Excel and Powerpoint for free on screen sizes 10.1 inches or smaller, with anything larger requiring an Office 365 subscription. Buying a subscription also unlocks advanced editing features, like the ability to track changes in Word.
“Personally I don’t like switching between apps to do different things on my smartphone,” said Steve Won, Microsoft Office senior designer that invented the Hub Keyboard, in a statement. “But all these different apps on a smartphone, they have to conform to rules of a keyboard and that got me thinking about the project as an interesting idea I wanted to explore more. We’re giving users a wider gamut of tools.”
In Microsoft’s most recent earnings report, Office 365 was one of its strongest areas, nearly doubling its revenue year-over-year.
Microsoft has slowly pushed further into supporting third party mobile platforms. Last month, The company revealed plans to release “WordFlow,” a keyboard for iPhone and Android specially designed for one-handed use. It’s not clear at this stage how, if at all, “WordFlow” integrates with Office 365 Mobile, but it brings other Microsoft mobile technologies to non-Windows Phone users.
“WordFlow” revives ideas from Microsoft’s “Ultra Mobile PC” concept, a small tablet where virtual keys fanned out from the bottom corners for easy thumb access. The PC itself never really took off: it languished in the marketplace after its 2006 launch, eventually being put to bed for good after Apple launched the iPad.