(Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has just released seven new features for the Office Insider versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook on iOS and Android. This current batch of updates is focused on "quality of life" -- relatively small improvements that add up to a more satisfying whole.

Office Insider is a preview program for the company's flagship productivity suite, and it requires an Office 365 subscription to enter. Qualifying Android users can sign up for Insider on this page, but new applications for iOS users are currently closed.

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For Android, the main addition is a zoom feature in Word that lets document text fill up your whole screen. This should be particularly helpful for legibility and proofreading, which can be an issue when you're using a display as small as a mobile phone screen. The Insider version for iOS is not slated to have this feature yet.

PowerPoint on Android is getting a similar feature that lets you zoom in on slides in both reading mode and editing mode, and it will intelligently adapt to landscape and portrait mode rotation. In the desktop version of PowerPoint, changing orientation is a multistep process, whereas Microsoft says you can "easily flip between" the modes in this Insider version.

Microsoft's third and final update for the Android version of PowerPoint beefs it up as a platform for creating presentations, rather than just letting you view them. In this Insider version, you'll now be able to add audio and video files using your phone or tablet.

The remaining Android updates are for Outlook, the email app. For one, Microsoft has added a quick reply box that lets you see the discussion thread as you type, for easier reference. When the company announced this feature in April, it said, "By keeping your message content in view, and a new reply box at the bottom of your screen, Outlook helps you keep the conversation going with a modern, chat-like experience."

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And indeed, Outlook on mobile is definitely starting to look more like a texting app. The rise of texting is one of the reasons for the decline of email in recent years, so if you can't beat 'em, maybe you can dress like 'em and play the role.

The second new Outlook feature for Android is the ability to see all of your Group's files on the Group Details page. In theory, a centralized location for your team's docs and files should help them identify the correct versions to work with.

Changes for iOS Insiders

Microsoft has just a couple of updates this time for iPhones and iPads. The first one is an event calendar for Group Cards in Outlook. Cards are the profile pages of individual Office 365 users, kind of like Microsoft's own version of LinkedIn (which Microsoft purchased roughly two years ago for $26.2 billion). With this new feature, you should be able to stay within the Outlook app more often, and less task-switching tends to allow better workflow.

The second iOS Insider feature is the ability to block external images that you may find embedded in some messages in your Outlook inbox. Without this feature, the sender can monitor the loading of this image when you open such a message, and thus they're able to determine if you've read it. With blocking enabled, the user gets more time to respond and more freedom to filter out the message altogether.

The takeaways

  1. Microsoft has released seven new features for the Android and iOS versions of Office Insider. Insider is the company's program that lets users beta test new features in advance of their release to the general public, and it requires a subscription to Office 365.
  2. Qualifying Android users can sign up for the program here; for iOS, Microsoft is not currently accepting more Insider users.

Also see

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.