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Microsoft today expanded the preview for its content aggregation and presentation application Sway. The waitlist has been axed, meaning anyone with a Microsoft Account can sign up to start creating Sways.
Sway launched in preview on October 1 as the first new product joining the Office product family in years. The premise is simple: Let users create presentations for the Web using text, pictures, and videos, regardless of what device they’re using.
Over the 10 weeks since the debut, Microsoft reported over 1 million unique visitors to Sway.com and over 175,000 requests to join. Those numbers grow “by thousands” every day, the company said, so the removal of the waitlist is completely warranted.
The company today also released a major update to Sway. Here are the latest new features:
- Undo and redo: This is by far the most-requested feature, and you can now use them on actions taken in Sway, both during the course of normal work and when using the Remix! button.
- Bullets and numbering: These have been added to the text toolbar, which appears at the top of the Storyline when you’re in a text card. The best part is that Sway will automatically go back and look for existing Sways where you used markup as a workaround for bullets (such as the asterisk * at the start of a line) and convert them into real bullets.
- Editing text on the canvas: In addition to editing headings and captions from the canvas, you can now also edit paragraphs of text, also by tapping or clicking and selecting Edit.
- Reordering sections more easily: You can now reorder sections by using touch or your mouse to simply grab a section where it says “Section” at the top, or any part of the section border, and then dragging the whole section where you’d like to move it. Sections will automatically collapse when you drag them to make them easier to move.
- Importing a PDF into Sway: You can now import PDF content directly into Sway. From your “My Sways” page, tap or click the Import button and select a PDF. You can also choose the Upload option and select a PDF while working on an existing Sway.
- Improvements to the color picker: In the next few days, you’ll start to see a lot more color palette options when you choose the Curated option. More choices will also show up around the app based on customization choices you make.
On November 17, Microsoft launched Sway for iPhone, but only in New Zealand, and said it would roll out to the U.S. and other English-speaking countries “soon.” Today, an updated build is going out to both Australia and New Zealand with the following improvements:
- Offline support — now you can start creating Sways even if you have no Internet connection
- Support for adding background images for titles and section headers (like you can in Sway on the web)
- Updated design to support iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices
Microsoft again didn’t provide a date for expansion to additional countries. It also didn’t talk about the Android and Windows Phone apps, which it previously said would arrive “in the coming months.”
Today’s update is a major one mainly because anyone can now try Sway. Yet there is still a very long road ahead before the company can bring its newest Office app out of preview.
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