Crossing bridges: Seven of the best Microsoft apps for your Android device

Crossing bridges: Seven of the best Microsoft apps for your Android device
For years, Microsoft has avoided launching its products on competing mobile operating systems. In the past couple of years, however, Microsoft's strategy took a U-\turn, as the company has started bringing its software to both Android and iOS.

The days of Windows-only Microsoft products now seem to be over, as the Redmond-based tech giant is looking to lure in users to its services independent of the operating systems that are being used to access the service. Microsoft currently has 59 apps available to download from Google Play.

In this article, we'll take a look at seven of the best Microsoft apps that you can use on your Android device. Some of them are well-known Microsoft products with a long history behind them. Others are Android-only products that were designed with Google's operating system in mind.

1. Microsoft Office

Ok, so this one isn't actually a single app, as Microsoft's Office suite for Android devices actually consists of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. New touch-optimized versions of the apps have been available for a few good months for Android tablets, and, more recently, Microsoft launched Office Preview apps for Android smartphones as well. 

Microsoft's Office suite is an industry standard, which is why many Android users are interested in the ability to view and edit Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents on Android devices.

Tablet owners: head on to these Google Play links to download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for free.

Smartphone owners: Follow the instructions detailed here to get the preview apps

2. Office Lens

Microsoft's Office Lens is a product that recently launched on Android. The app turns any Android handset into a smart portable scanner which can be used to scan documents, whiteboards, receipts, and more. Just point Office Lens at a document, and the app will automatically crop, rotate, skew, and enhance the document.

Office Lens also integrates OCR (optical character recognition), allowing the user to search images by keyword in OneNote or OneDrive. When scanning a business card, Office Lens allows you to instantly add a contact with the details mentioned on the business card, which is a pretty neat features, although definitely not something entirely new.

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Scanned documents can be converted in Word documents, PDF files, or even PowerPoint presentations. If you're constantly working with documents and are looking for a way to digitalize them using your an Android smartphone, Office Lens is an app that you should consider.

Download Office Lens for free from Google Play.

3. OneDrive

While many Android users turn to Google's own Drive, Dropbox, or Drop as their cloud-based storage solution, many businesses impose One Drive on their employees. Aside from an Android Wear watchface that can be used to view the photos stored on OneDrive, the app doesn't do much to differentiate itself from its competitors, but its availability on the Android platform is certainly appreciated by those who use OneDrive for work or personal purposes.

Download OneDrive for free from Google Play.

4. Next Lockscreen

This is an Android-exclusive app from Microsoft. Next Lockscreen is an app that tries to anticipate what you're going to do next on your Android smartphone and provide a quick way to do it right from the lockscreen, which is where the name comes from.

The Next Lockscreen draws data from the phone's calendar, and will use that information to provide an agenda view right on the lockscreen. Furthermore, the app also brings a quick launcher right to the lockscreen. The trick is that the lockscreen populates with different apps depending on the time of the day. 

Download Next Lockscreen for free from Google Play.

5. OneNote

As the name suggests, One Note is a note-taking app. Previously available only on Windows Phone, the app has been brought to the Android ecosystem back in 2014. OneNote allows you to draw notes using a stylus or a finger, and it also features multiple formatting options. OneNote is a pretty powerful note-taking app, allowing the user to drop audio and video into a note, search for notes, or upload notes to OneDrive.

The app also comes with an Android Wear extension, one that allows you to dictate notes to your Android device using your voice.

Download OneNote for free from Google Play. The Android Wear extension can be found here.

6. On {x}

On {x} is another Android-exclusive app from Microsoft, and it's probably the most interesting one as well. With On {X}, users are able to create complicated automatisation rules using a Javascript API. For instance, On {X} allows you to program your Android smartphone to pop a reminder if it's going to rain later in the day, or to remind you to buy groceries when you arrive at a certain location. If you're not very good at Javascript programming, you can use pre-made 'recipes'. 

Download On {x} for free from Google Play.

7. Tentacles: Enter The Dolphin

Last but not least, Microsoft even makes Android games. Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin lets you play the role of Lemmy, a strange microscopic creature with a single large eye and long tentacles. After accidentally ending up inside the body of the mad scientist who created him, Lemmy has to find its way through several biological levels, such as the veins, the brain, and the intestines. It's tough to explain the game in words, but give it a try if you're into odd smartphone games.

Download Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin for free from Google Play.

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