Business

Microsoft Office to expand with new ‘ Reader’ & ‘Lens’ apps

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Microsoft is apparently working on two new Office-branded applications that expand the perimeters of what you’d expect from a business-focused software suite.

While most people typically think of word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation apps when it comes to Microsoft Office, the new apps offer tools for things you’d do outside of work like reading and taking pictures.

Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer recently demoed a new “Office Reader” Windows 8 app to employees, according to a report by The Verge today. Office Reader is essentially a tool for people to consume various kinds of media on both tablets and desktops. You can pull in various document files, spreadsheets, graphs, etc. — all of which you can interact with. It seems like this is a better solution for when people just want to read or consult those work-related documents without revising them. For instance, Reader might be what you use on your Surface tablet during a presentation in the board room; pulling up the necessary materials would be much easier than fumbling through a stack of papers.)

Office Reader also makes good use of a Surface stylus, allowing you to take notes directly on the Reader app. Those notes are then stored automatically and appear in a sidebar for later reference. Both the content being consumed and the notes are searchable within the app via Bing, according to The Verge’s report.

Koenigsbauer also showed off a new “Office Lens” Windows Phone app that lets you automatically scan and convert data off of any photo you take of a white board or presentation screen.

The new apps are part of a larger refresh to the Office software suite that employees are calling Gemini, which will contain some tweaks and updates to other Office apps as well as a new cloud-based OneNote Capture Service that seems like Microsoft’s answer to Evernote.

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