On June 21st Microsoft released Office Mobile for iPhone, a free application from Apple’s iTunes store. The new application allows mobile users to access and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents that are stored in the cloud.

Office Mobile for iPhone enables users to work on a document on their computer such as a Word document or PowerPoint presentation, and when leaving it open, access it from their iPhone.  All changes made to the document can be saved on the SkyDrive, which synchronizes the document so it reflects changes regardless of where it’s worked on.

The application is available to Office 365 subscribers, as long as their plan includes support for Office Mobile and Office Desktop applications. According to this blog post the application will only work on iOS 6.1 or later, and requires an iPhone 4, 4S, 5, or a fifth-generation iPod touch.

The plans that support Office Mobile and Office Desktop applications include:

  • Office 365 Home Premium
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 Education A3 and A4
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4
  • Some Office 365 for government plans

The free trial version of Office 365 also has access to Office Mobile for iPhone; Windows Phone users automatically have Office Mobile built into their devices and they don’t need an Office 365 subscription to access it.

Although Apple iOS applications for Microsoft’s OneNote and Lync 2013 products are already available, this will be the first time Microsoft has made the entire Office Suite, apart from Outlook, available to iPhone users. Microsoft explained:

“Outlook Mobile is exclusively available on Windows phones. However, iPhone offers a native Exchange ActiveSync email experience in the email app.”

The application was designed specifically for iPhone users; Microsoft suggests that Office Web Apps work better for tablet users. Office Mobile was built to provide an excellent Office experience on small-screen devices, while Office Web Apps provide the best Office experience on a tablet. Microsoft’s recent blog post said:

“We have made great enhancements to Office Web Apps including an improved touch experience for tablet users. Like all iPhone apps, Office Mobile can work on iPad, either small or ’2X’ scaled up, but you’ll have a more satisfying experience using Office Web Apps.”

During the past year, rumors have been circulating regarding an Office application for the iPad and iPhone, but Microsoft hasn’t released a response. When asked about the potential iPad Office application during a Bloomberg interview earlier this year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “I have nothing to say on that topic.”