Windows Phone 7, Day 19: Diving Into the Office Hub

30 Days With Windows Phone 7: Day 19

Today I am continuing the conversation from Day 18 about productivity on the go with a "Mango" smartphone. The Office Hub in Windows Phone 7 sets the device apart from the competition as a platform for mobile productivity.

My Windows Phone 7 smartphone has been connected with my Windows Live ID since day one. That Windows Live ID provides a common thread that ties many of the aspects of using Windows Phone 7 together. It helps keep my contacts and calendar in sync. It delivers the Xbox Live experience to my smartphone. And, it integrates my SkyDrive account for seamless access to files I have stored in the cloud.

Windows Phone 7 Office Hub
The Office Hub integration with SkyDrive and SharePoint is impressive.
Once I added an Office 365 account to "Mango", the associated SharePoint team site also became an integrated part of the smartphone.

When I click on the Office Hub live tile, it opens up to a tab called "Documents" with a colorful array of tiles representing the files that are available. Blue tiles indicate Word documents, green tiles for Excel spreadsheets, orange tiles for PowerPoint presentations, and red tiles for PDF docs.

I noticed that the files listed here represent all sources. There is a separate tab I can swipe to called "Locations" where I can choose to view the content broken down by where it is stored--on SkyDrive, on my Office 365 SharePoint team site, or local on the phone itself. But, on the "Documents" tab, it simply displays all of the available files without regard for where they are stored. I think that is pretty cool because it makes it easier for me to focus on finding a given file rather than worrying about exactly where that file might be stored.

At the bottom there are two icons--a plus sign for creating new files, and the magnifying glass to search for a specific file. When I open search, it switches to a view with a text entry box for typing in the key words to search for, and the virtual keyboard opens at the bottom. It defaults to searching all files, but I can also swipe left or right to narrow the search down to a specific location--like only local on the phone, or only SkyDrive.

Clicking to add a new file provides only two options really--Word or Excel. I can view or edit PowerPoint files, and I can view PDF files, but neither of those formats can be created from scratch on the "Mango" smartphone. As I mentioned on Day 18, though, there are more options than just the blank Word and Excel files because "Mango" also offers a number of handy templates like "Timesheet" and "Mileage Tracker".

Obviously, the Word Mobile and Excel Mobile apps are less versatile than their desktop counterparts. The Word Mobile app lets me create an outline, add comments, search a document for specific text, and do basic formatting--bold, italic, strikethrough, highlighting, and font color type things.

The Excel Mobile app basically treats all cell inputs as text unless you tap the formula button next to the text entry field. It doesn't offer any additional formatting options, or access to any more advanced features of Excel.

There is one other primary tab to swipe to within the Office Hub, and one other type of file that can be created, as well as viewed or edited--OneNote. The "Notes" tab displays all of the various OneNote Notes available. In addition to the plus sign and magnifying glass, there is a third icon at the bottom that appears to be a stack of file folders. Tapping this icon displays the different OneNote folders and lets me switch to a different one if I choose.

OneNote Mobile is arguably the most flexible of the Office apps on the "Mango" smartphone. When I create a new note I can create bulleted or numbered lists, increase or decrease how far the text is indented, add checkboxes, insert photos, and do basic formatting of the text similar to the capabilities of Word Mobile. I can also tap the microphone icon to record messages to insert into the note.

As I said on Day 18, my "Mango" smartphone is not going to replace my primary PC. I won't be writing a white paper in the Word Mobile app any time soon. But, it is nice to have the ability to open and edit the files from my SkyDrive or SharePoint team site.

I also appreciate that I can create a basic Word or Excel file from the smartphone if I choose, and that the file I create will be automatically stored in Skydrive and available for me to open when I get back to my PC without doing any further syncing or converting.

Read the last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Google+

Day 18: Productivity On the Go with "Mango"

Day 20: Where's the VPN?

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