First Look: Microsoft Hits the iPhone With OneNote Mobile

Microsoft on Wednesday launched an iPhone version of its OneNote productivity application, linking it to its Office Live cloud service and offering a hint of what may be possible with other parts of its vaunted Office 2010 suite.

OneNote Mobile for iPhone

Microsoft OneNote Mobile for iPhone went online Wednesday as a free download from the Apple iTunes App Store.

OneNote is Microsoft’s simple, note-taking and organization application that has been somewhat of an awkward fit with its Office lineup, providing a cross between the functionality of Word, PowerPoint and its basic Notepad. When Microsoft launched its Office Live, cloud-based version of Office, it included a hosted version of OneNote as well.

OneNote Mobile this morning downloaded, over a WiFi connection, to an iPhone and installed in just a matter of a minute or two. Once launched on the iPhone, OneNote Mobile required a Windows Live ID to sign in.

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Once logged in, basic OneNote functionality appeared in a very elegant manner in the app. A Home screen provides links to Recently Viewed notes on OneNote from Office Live and Unfiled notes as well. The navigation provides buttons for taking quick notes, taking or adding iPhone photos to a note, and a Settings area where data can be synchronized wirelessly back to Office Live.

On its face, OneNote Mobile from Microsoft is an app that would compete, for example, with longstanding iPhone note-taking apps like Evernote, which works on several platforms and also synchronizes notes wirelessly from devices to the cloud or PCs.

This quick test worked: After logging in to Office Live over the Web with a MacBook, a quick note was created and saved. Then picking up the iPhone and hitting the Sync button under settings, that same note was available in less than a minute on the device.

What Microsoft has made intriguing is the potential for other Office and Office Live applications to become smart device ’apps,’ with close to full functionality that can synch from platform to platform live, over the air. Microsoft also makes a mobile version of OneNote available on its Windows 7 Mobile platform -- but by opening it up to Apple’s iOS for iPhone, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker is immediately expanding its total potential market by orders of magnitude.

Microsoft executives have been saying for at least two years that, eventually, their entire product line would be support cloud computing models and, with OneNote Mobile for iPhone, it’s taking a nice step in that direction.