The 2019 update of the entry-level iPad wasn’t about its internals for a performance bump, it rather focused on its physicality. Though not apparent at a glance, the iPad 10.2 shares its dimensions with the pricier iPad Air 3 launched earlier this year. An extra half-inch was added to its display to fill the gap while still holding those chunky bezels back from the 9.7-inch iPad 2018.
With this change and the inclusion of the Smart Connector, the 7th-gen iPad became compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard that brings typing functionality to the tablet without the added task of charging and pairing the keyboard accessory. The story doesn’t end there. This raise in display dimensions will have some implications on the software the new iPad can run.
Apparently, Microsoft has some norms in place concerning a tablet’s display size that may restrict free access to its Office apps. In this piece, we’ll find out if these norms cover the iPad 7 and whether this 329-dollar machine will have free access to the Microsoft Office suite of apps.
Do you need an Office 365 subscription for the iPad 10.2?
Getting straight to the point, yes, you will need an Office 365 subscription to run Microsoft apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the all-new iPad 2019. Microsoft has maintained its display size criterion to allow free access to its Office apps only on devices with a 10.1-inch or smaller screen.
Any tablet, no matter the preinstalled operating system, with a larger display must have an active subscription to fully utilize these apps. The 2019 iPad with its 10.2-inch display misses the threshold by a mere 0.1 inch. Microsoft considers any tablet with a display larger than 10.1 inches to be intended for professional use.
A Microsoft spokesperson in Germany confirmed this piece of information to a local website iFun.de. This is the translated statement by the spokesperson: “[…] It continues to be correct that for private use, Office Mobile Apps are free up to 10.1 inch.”
Without an Office 365 subscription in place on the iPad 10.2, you will still have access to all the Office apps, but they’ll run in read-only mode. The paid tier will just unlock the editing capabilities besides bringing a handful of minor features, depending on your plan.
Similar questions were raised when Apple bumped the iPad Pro’s display from 9.7 inches to 10.5 inches a couple of years back. With the 9.7-inch iPad 2018 (review) now discontinued, the iPad Mini 2019 remains the lone tablet in Apple’s tablet portfolio with access to free Microsoft Office apps.
Free Microsoft Office Alternatives For iPad 10.2
Even though Microsoft Office range of programs remains the industry benchmark, several alternates have popped up over the years jockeying for position. For some collaborative features take over while others aim to bring a UI that’s consistent with their Microsoft equivalent. Here are some of the best options for the iPad 2019 those do fit the bill.
1. Google’s office suite
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides continue to be by far the most popular alternatives to Microsoft’s suite of Office apps. Even the staunchest Office users won’t face a single snag in navigating through these apps, thanks to their borrowed design elements. These Google apps natively support the standard Office file formats, thus, saving you from the need to reformat your entire collection of documents.
All the programs under Google’s office suite have a robust iPad app offering consistent user experience. Google’s office suite is a cloud-based service and has an even more intuitive web interface. With the release of iPadOS, the web apps of all these services will be readily available in the Safari browser. Additionally, the users swear by its collaboration features that give you granular sharing controls.
2. WPS Office
Like Google’s offering, WPS also has an end-to-end solution that includes alternatives to three primary Office apps. WPS calls them Writer, Presentation, and Spreadsheets, which are pretty much self-explanatory. This office suite comes from a Chinese developer Kingsoft which offers its service is multiple paid tiers. The free tier is ad-supported and works as intended. You can opt for a paid version to get rid of any intrusive ads.
WPS Office has built-in solutions like spell checks in Writer and changes trackability among others that go beyond the basic set of features. Of course, the suite supports a variety of file formats, including those proprietary to Microsoft. WPS Office wants to be an all-in-one solution as it can also replace your dedicated PDF reader app. This flexibility extends to its app support for multiple platforms.
3. Office Web Apps
Probably the best alternative to Office apps for iPad are Microsoft’s own Office Web Apps. The company has a trimmed-down version of its office suite accessible only through a web browser, an approach similar to that of Google. The service is free to use and pulls files from the connected OneDrive storage. That means accessing files in device memory will first require uploading them to the cloud.
Nevertheless, the web apps will make you feel right at home if you’re accustomed to the industry-standard Office apps. They have gotten the basics right and you can easily get away with anything but advanced work. The use of Office Web Apps on an iPad could only be made possible with the iPadOS that defaults to desktop websites for its Safari browser. Apple’s iPad 10.2 comes preinstalled with the new OS while most of the recent iPad models are already getting the update.
4. Apple iWork
Apple tends to bundle dozens of productivity apps with its products making it easier to get started especially for new users. Apple iWork is a popular name in the business and the suite includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps as substitutes to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively. The versions of these apps available for iPad differ from those on a Mac computer—both of which get the entire suite without you shelling out a dime extra.
You will stay satisfied with all the apps Apple iWork has to offer if you don’t intend to utilize more complicated functions of their Office counterparts. Apple allows you to import all your files created with Microsoft’s suite with little to no formatting discrepancies. Lately, these Apple apps are playing catch-up with their versions made for Macs and they’re getting pretty close!
- Bright display
- Solid performance
- Full metal body
- iPadOS with great multitasking
- Apple Pencil support
- Official keyboard cover support
- Long battery life
- Integrated fingerprint scanner
- Old design
- Display not laminated
- No stereo separation
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