New Office 365 features for individual and family users that are rolling out now

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Microsoft continues to add to Office 365. This latest roundup covers some features you may have missed, improvements to others and a few that are brand new.

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Microsoft has been constantly improving on its subscription-based Office 365 product by adding new features and bringing existing ones from the web to mobile and desktop computers. While enterprise customers get first crack at many of these tools, freelancers and individuals using the individuals and families tier may miss out, and that’s the purpose behind Microsoft’s recently published Office 365 feature roundup.

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Some Office 365 features for individuals and families that Microsoft covered are things most Office users are probably aware of. The Office unified app, which rolls Word, Excel and PowerPoint into a single piece of software, was made available for iPad in February. Microsoft Lens OCR and homescreen widgets on iOS devices running iOS 14 or newer are available now.

SEE: Research: Video conferencing tools and cloud-based solutions dominate digital workspaces; VPN and VDI less popular with SMBs (TechRepublic Premium)

Several features of Office 365 have received updates to improve functionality, and Microsoft even announced a couple of new features, one of which is in limited preview, and the other of which is coming soon.

Improved Office 365 features

One of the improved elements of Office 365 is the Money in Excel template, a budgeting template that functions similarly to budgeting apps available for iOS and Android devices. Two new features have been added to the Money in Excel template, namely cash flow insights “shared once per month to provide positive reinforcement when your monthly spending is less than your income, meaning you are cash flow positive,” and manual transaction input.

Professionals nervous about presenting to groups will want to try the expanded scope and new features of the PowerPoint Presenter Coach, which has moved from being a web-only product to being available on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android as well as online.

Presenter Coach watches you present and provides feedback on pace, voice pitch and filler usage. As well as expanding its availability, Microsoft recently added new features as well: 

  • Using a device’s camera, Presenter Coach will keep an eye on body language—specifically whether users are providing a clear view of their face, are at a good distance from the camera and are making eye contact. 
  • Presenter Coach will listen for repetitive word and phrase usage and let users know which words they’re using too frequently and some helpful synonyms.
  • While listening, Presenter Coach will identify words it thinks the user mispronounces and provide a recording of the correct pronunciation in what Microsoft calls “General American English.” 

Another expanded feature is the Microsoft Editor, which provides feedback on structure, grammar and other technical aspects of a Word document. Microsoft revealed that the web-only Editor will be arriving on Word for Windows in the near future, and also added a plagiarism checker that scans the internet for similarly worded articles and automatically provides a properly-formatted citation as an alternative to re-writing it.

Editor is also adding background information on suggestions that will help users learn why it’s recommending a change, which Microsoft describes as “bite-sized learning tips while in the flow of writing, helping you better understand the concepts of grammar and style.” 

SEE: The future of work: Tools and strategies for the digital workplace (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Upcoming Office 365 features

As for coming features, Microsoft revealed that Excel in Office 365 “will soon have access to over 100 data types powered by Wolfram. Instead of using multiple apps or sites to copy and paste external data into tables, you can import and refresh data directly into Excel.” No actual release date was specified outside of “coming soon” for Microsoft 365 personal and family subscribers on Windows, macOS and the web. 

Lastly, there’s the limited preview feature that Microsoft has just made available: Designer in Word. This new tool “is an intelligent assistance tool that helps you create documents with a polished, professional and consistent look and feel with no design skills required,” Microsoft said. Think of Designer as a spelling checker for style elements combined with themes that can be applied to existing documents. Designer in Word is available now for anyone with a Microsoft account. 

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