While Android users like ourselves can tend to be a little too preoccupied with the Google-centric operating system we know and love, there is more than just Google out there. Over the past year or so, Microsoft has steadily creeped onto Android, and considering that the majority of Android users are probably using a Windows PC it's perhaps a good idea to bring the two operating systems closer. Whether you can't shake that Excel feeling or you're just looking for something a little different, this Top 10 of Microsoft apps should have a little something for you.
A direct competitor to Google Drive – as well as Dropbox, Box et al – Microsoft's OneDrive is a solid option for those looking for a decent cloud storage solution. If you use a Windows PC, don't fancy Google Photos and/or just want a more Windows-y way of backing up your photos and sharing files, OneDrive is a good solution, and even if you plump for the paid packages, it won't break the bank. It works well on Android as well as Windows and Mac OS X.
Perhaps the biggest example that Microsoft wants to be where all the users are, the Arrow Launcher is a third-party homescreen for your Android phone. It changes the way your homescreen looks and behaves, and is – perhaps unpredictably – designed for those looking to get more done. The Arrow Launcher makes it easy to get to your most-used apps in a heartbeat and it will helpfully remind you of recent calls and messages, as well as offer up a separate page for a todo list. Well worth checking out, this is completely free and fairly decent all-around.
We knew this one was coming, and it has a place in this list for a good reason. The Microsoft Word app for Android has come a long way since it was first launched, and it's better designed for touch than ever before, and integrates nicely with Dropbox as well as Microsoft's own OneDrive. For those times you need to get 100% correct formatting when away from your desk or without your laptop, the official MS Word is still one of the best options out there.
If Google Fit isn't cutting it, then Microsoft's direct competitor might help. It will track steps and runs on Android devices running KitKat or above, but it really comes alive with a Microsoft Band tracker. With some of the best data collection and visualization – no matter which device you're logging in from – Microsoft Health makes it easy to log a run, find a guided workout and activity tracking is super-accurate on the Microsoft Band trackers (I've been wearing one for six months now). Free to download and try out, this might be the health platform that you've been looking for.
Much like Microsoft Word, Excel is one of the better choices if you're putting spreadsheets together on the move. It might not seem like the best solution to create one from scratch, but what's nice about the Microsoft solution here is that you can input data or change things here and there without worrying about whether or not you've made some changes to the overall format of your document. Free to use, and even better for Office 365 users, the original and oldest is still one of the best.
Hub Keyboard, Preview
The Hub Keyboard is one of the more experimental things that Microsoft is bringing to Android, and it's another keyboard replacement. The Hub Keyboard is named as such due to its goal of bringing together all of the different everyday functions into one keyboard. That includes your clipboard as well as bringing in content from other apps via Extensions and even translation there and then no matter who and how you're chatting. Free to download and try out, this might help ex-Windows Phone users acclimatize as well as offer Android users a path less trodden.
Speaking of translations, Microsoft has an app for that, too! It might sound strange to hear, but this could be considered a better option to Google Translate. Through their work with the Skype team, Microsoft have developed some pretty powerful translation software and this Android app works brilliantly on your wrist, allowing you to get the right phrase or get your meaning across to someone in front of you without needing to get your phone out. A great translation app that's quick, accurate and handy this is worth a go.
Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile
When Hyperlapse content started to take off, users were disappointed in the lack of options on Android. Instagram themselves didn't bring it to Android right away, and other options seem a little hit and miss. Well, Microsoft figured out how to do it, and with the Hyperlapse Mobile app, they make it super-simple for Android users to put together a hyperlapse of their own, no matter where and when. It's updated fairly regularly, and this appears to be a permanent solution, rather than another of Microsoft's experiments.
OneNote has become one of the best cross-platform note-taking solutions out there. It now allows people to move over from Evernote nice and easily, has some new Android-only features and works well on Android Wear, too. With a good-looking interface and the ability to format notes however the hell you want, this works well on Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS making it available and synced no matter where you might be taking notes.
Keyboard for Excel
Okay, so let's say you really need to get some number crunching and the frustrating mobile keyboards available on Android just aren't helping you get that done? Well, this offering from Microsoft will solve that problem as it offers a permanent number pad as well as quick access to non-standard characters that you might be using for currency, values or whatever else.