Bytes: What’s new in tech

Microsoft Office rolls out for iPad; Finding a smartphone that fits; BlackBerry goes retro

Microsoft Office rolls out for iPad

It’s finally here, said Jared Newman in Microsoft unveiled an iPad version of Microsoft Office last week, allowing tablet users to view and present documents for free, and to create and edit files with a subscription. The rollout features a suite of apps that include flagship products—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—along with existing apps like OneNote, Lync, and OWA, Microsoft’s “Outlook Web App” for Exchange-based email. The company also made its iPhone and Android versions of the Office suite—previously available with a subscription—completely free. “The smartphone versions aren’t particularly robust,” and customers “looking for an Android tablet version of Office” are out of luck. “Microsoft’s productivity suite still isn’t supported on larger screens, so you’ll have to use an alternative like Quickoffice, Kingsoft Office, or OfficeSuite.”

Finding a smartphone that fits

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Struggling to find the right size phone? asked Geoffrey A. Fowler in The Wall Street Journal. In this case, bigger may be better. “There is some science to figuring out what screen size might best serve you, and three factors matter most: What you can see, what your thumbs can reach, and what you can comfortably hold.” But ergonomics experts say there’s no one size that fits all, and smartphone users will have to make some “trade-offs” to find the right fit. Since we spend more time looking at our phones than talking on them these days, larger screens are often better because “you can get more done.” But “as screens get bigger, it becomes harder for a thumb to reach all of that real estate,” and despite smaller keys, our fat thumbs still perform “far better on smaller phones.”

BlackBerry goes retro

BlackBerry is bringing back the Bold, said Dan Seifert in The Canadian phone-maker said last week it plans to reintroduce the 2011 BlackBerry Bold, thanks to strong demand from users who prefer the phone’s physical keyboard and BlackBerry 7 operating system. As “the quintessential BlackBerry smartphone,” the Bold “has a great keyboard and strong messaging features,” but is still weak on Web browsing, apps, and photos—big factors in smartphone use today. But the announcement signals a shift for the struggling company, which hopes to “appeal to its core audience” with more old-school offerings in the coming months.

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