iPhone gets Microsoft OneNote app

OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office suite

Microsoft on Tuesday released an iPhone version of OneNote, the digital notebook software, in one of the first examples of Microsoft making a portion of Office available on non-Windows phones.

Free for "a limited time," OneNote on the iTunes App Store lets users create and view documents on their Apple devices and sync changes on Windows Live SkyDrive, making them available from their phone or PC.

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OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office suite, but for now Microsoft's other Office applications are available only on Windows mobile devices, with the exception of Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia phones. A comprehensive version of Office can be used on Windows Phone 7, but not on today's Android or iPhone devices. Microsoft said in the future customers can expect more Office products on Nokia phones, because of a partnership with that company, and perhaps on other mobile operating systems.

"You can expect Office to continue to evolve across different platforms," says Jason Bunge, senior director of Office products management.

This latest version of OneNote Mobile was designed for the iPhone only, Bunge said. However, it can technically be used on the iPad or iPod Touch, at least according to the product description on the iTunes App Store.

While Microsoft hadn't ported OneNote to the iPhone and iPad previously, a third-party app by Businessware Technologies Inc., called "MobileNoter," already gave both iOS and Android users access to their OneNote documents.

Microsoft Office corporate vice president Takeshi Numoto announced OneNote Mobile in a blog post that trumpets Microsoft's willingness to bring its software to multiple types of devices, even those running non-Microsoft operating systems.

"Today's release is another step in Office evolving to serve our 750 million customers worldwide," Numoto writes. "Whether it's on a PC or Mac, a mobile phone or online through the Web Apps on multiple browsers, we continue to bring Office to the devices, platforms, and operating systems our customers are using."

The OneNote desktop software is not offered on Mac, but a hosted version can be used by Mac and even Linux users over the Internet as part of Office Web Apps.

OneNote, Numoto writes, is "the unsung hero of Office ... a digital notebook that lets you put everything you need to remember in one electronic place and then easily find it wherever you are. I use it every day. Think of it as a digital file cabinet for all the random bits of information that are too hard to keep track of in your head. According to comScore, 78 million PCs in the U.S. have OneNote - more than a third of all the PCs in the country."

OneNote Mobile on the iPhone will look a bit different than the product on Windows Phone 7, but the features and functionality are about the same, Bunge says. This is the third Microsoft app on iPhone, after Bing and Windows Live Messenger.

Bunge did not say whether there are roadblocks to getting the software onto Android devices, but in previous interviews Microsoft officials have said Android poses development challenges because the physical configurations of the phones, such as the types of buttons, can vary across devices. However, that did not stop Microsoft from creating a Bing application for Android.

In addition to creating and editing documents, the iPhone version of OneNote will work with phone-specific features, like the camera. Already, Bunge says student users of OneNote take their iPhones to class and snap pictures of, say, a whiteboard, which they later sync to their OneNote accounts. Now they will be able to perform the sync immediately. Construction workers have used OneNote in similar situations, taking pictures of projects or equipment and later syncing the photos to their OneNote accounts, he said.

OneNote Mobile users can work offline as well, with changes being synced to the server once an Internet connection is established.

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