Microsoft’s New Mobile Strategy Takes Shape

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company will become "mobile-first" as he announced Office for iPad last year. Credit: NY Post

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company will become "mobile-first" as he announced Office for iPad last year. Credit: NY Post

Good morning. It's Thursday, February 19th.

Here's what you should know today:

Microsoft brings the Surface Pro's powerful handwriting and note-taking technology to OneNote for iPad. It's a move that proves the company is looking beyond Windows to capture mobile market share.


Good Thursday morning to you. There’s an updated note-taking app for iPad out today that’s getting a lot of attention this morning. And it’s not from Evernote or Apple.

Just five days after making OneNote completely free (no more subscription required), Microsoft has pushed out an update that brings “digital ink” technology, vastly improved handwriting support, palm rejection and “optical character recognition” to the iPad app. 

Microsoft previously reserved these features for its Surface Pro lineup. It’s a huge update that instantly makes OneNote for iPad the app to beat in its category.

Optical character recognition (or “OCR”) is really cool stuff. Take a picture of a receipt, business card or document, and OneNote will analyze the image and find text. After processing, the image is converted into a fully searchable, fully editable file.

Today’s OneNote update follows the release of Outlook app for iPhone and Android earlier this month. On PCs, Outlook has been the go-to mail and calendar app for people and businesses for over a decade. The mobile app earned unanimous praise in early reviews. “Outlook is thoughtfully tailored for how people use email on smartphones,” says Nick Wingfield of The New York Times.

The Outlook app borrows heavily from Acompli, an “intelligent” mobile email app that Microsoft acquired in late 2014. Acompli became one of the most popular apps on the App Store thanks to its algorithm that pulled important emails to the top of your inbox, a great time-saver when checking mail on the go.

Microsoft recently announced it will also acquire Sunrise, a calendar app that also uses similar technology.

Microsoft resisted bringing any Office apps to iOS or Android until last year, when Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO. In Nadella’s first public address as chief executive, he announced Microsoft would adapt to compete in “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

Since then, it’s become clear that Microsoft is looking beyond Windows to capture mobile market share. And they appear to be succeeding. The best office productivity, mail, (and now note-taking) apps for iOS are all made by Microsoft.


Drew Rapp

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