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date:2021-06-12

¡¡¡¡The coronavirus pandemic is full of lessons on how to manage companies, big and small. When countries worldwide went into lockdowns, billions of people had to adjust to how they worked and lived.

¡¡¡¡Maximum Games found itself in a position in which some of its biggest retail partners were shutting their doors, while also trying to figure out how to establish workflows, expand presence in digital storefronts, and help employees make it through what¡¯s been a trying year for almost everyone.

¡¡¡¡I always learn something useful when I interview Maximum Games CEO Christina Seelye, techniques or tactics I can often apply to my own work as a managing editor of an online publication. And her main takeaway from the pandemic is something we all should think about when it comes to overseeing teams, be they in games, retail, or any other sector.

¡¡¡¡¡°What the pandemic taught us is we had to think about how someone¡¯s whole life was going. We had to think about what was happening with their kids and their parents, who was ill in their family, whether they had a smaller house and were feeling a little cramped. Or they¡¯re frustrated work-wise because they can¡¯t connect with the rest of their team that they want to connect with,¡± she said. ¡°Empathy became a much more important skill and a much broader environment in which you had to be empathetic.¡±

¡¡¡¡I talked to Seelye about running a midmarket publisher during a pandemic, from dealing with selling games to making them. We also chatted about the effect of working during the pandemic has had on women, and how managers can help them.

¡¡¡¡This is an edited transcript of our interview.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: How well is Maximum riding out the pandemic?

¡¡¡¡Christina Seelye: We¡¯re doing great, actually. It¡¯s been an interesting year.

¡¡¡¡From a business standpoint, it was scary at the beginning, because a huge piece of our revenue still comes from physical retail. With all of the closures last year, we had some moments of panic. But our company motto is ¡°adapt or die.¡± We say that in emails all the time. It¡¯s very much part of our DNA.

¡¡¡¡We made some moves early in the year, in 2020, to set us up for success regardless of store closures or openings in different regions. We were able to navigate pretty well through. We did have declines in physical retail, obviously, because a lot of stuff closed, but our digital sales increased quite a bit. We reprioritized where we were focused on the retail side. Mass merchants, dot-coms, that area of the business continues to do very well. People are at home and they want to play some video games. It worked out.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: When it comes to retail, what have you learned from the pandemic that you want to carry forward after and make it part of your business model?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: There are some things that we learned that we¡¯re going to continue. The importance of a lot of content being available on retailers¡¯ dot-com sites is becoming increasingly more important. We¡¯ve always done a lot for creating press awareness for our games. Now we¡¯re doing a lot more working with the retailers so that they have high quality screenshots, trailers, copy, lots of information and content on their dot-coms, so that when their customers, when a Wal-Mart or Target customer, or the global equivalent, goes to those retailer sites, they have a lot of quality content there to get that information. That¡¯s one thing we¡¯re going to continue. We prioritized that over the last year.

¡¡¡¡Another thing that we¡¯re doing is broadening our retail reach. Instead of only focusing on the big guys, we¡¯re also focusing on some of the more regional stores. We found that during the pandemic, people were going to a lot of regional stores for a combination of grocery and entertainment. They only wanted to make one stop. Those multipurpose retailers that are more regional in nature, we had a second-tier retail focus this year.

¡¡¡¡

¡¡¡¡Above: Extinction from Maximum Games and Iron Galaxy Studios.

¡¡¡¡Image Credit: Iron Galaxy

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: Did it surprise you that those second-tier stores were important?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: It¡¯s been one of our ¡°claims to fame,¡± or whatever it is, that we always did prioritize not just the big guys. Because we¡¯ve been so strong physically, in physical retail, for so long, we¡¯ve had long-standing relationships with those guys. But to be honest, the Tier 1 retailers take a lot of work. Sometimes, just by the nature of how the salespeople approach their efforts, they tend to focus on the big guys. This reinvigorated that for us. We never didn¡¯t prioritize them, but we added- ¨C look at what these guys can do. When shopping had its change, they were important. To make sure that we¡¯re giving them their fair due, their fair shake, that¡¯s important.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: Based on your research, do you expect the way people have shopped during the pandemic will change things in the next few years? Will people adopt these habits?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: The crystal ball is murky on that topic. In talking to our customers, what we¡¯re seeing is the same type of behavior that we¡¯ve had in the pandemic, we¡¯re continuing to see it right now. We haven¡¯t seen a big shift back to what the sell-through trends were prepandemic. But I think one of the rules is that it only takes about three weeks to establish a new habit. It¡¯s been a year now. New habits are pretty well-established. My gut says that we will keep this same type of shopping moving forward. And I think that we¡¯ll see a lot of dot-com business continue to happen, where they shop at a retailer and have it delivered. There will be a lot of curbside still happening, because people have found that to be convenient. Some of these pandemic innovations that took place, those preferences will continue. Which is why it¡¯s so important to market a bit differently.

¡¡¡¡We used to market a lot with retailers on shelf space and real estate within the store. You wanted to get end caps. You wanted to have visibility on the shelf, things like that. A lot of that visibility work that we do now is around content and placement on dot-coms and marketing in that way, so it¡¯s easy to curbside pickup. People still like having a physical copy of a game, so we¡¯re still seeing a lot of demand for physical, even during the pandemic.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: Did you change any of your tactics when it comes to your partnerships with stores like the PlayStation Store or Nintendos eShop?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: We treated the different platforms ¡ª well, I¡¯ll call them platform partners: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo. We approached them in the same way we approached working with different retailers, which is regular line reviews, regular communication with different marketing tactics we could use on those stores. Instead of approaching digital in a more passive way, where you just throw it up there and see what happens, we¡¯re working with those more like channel sales partners instead of just a platform partner. That¡¯s doing a lot more promotional work, a lot more tying when we¡¯re putting stuff on sale to when that platform partner has some kind of curated sale that they¡¯re doing as well. Our digital sales strategy got a lot more strategic. The other thing we did ¡ª we¡¯ve always done this, but more purposefully this past year. There¡¯s a lot of places to sell your game digitally.

¡¡¡¡In the same way you kind of get lazy on the retail side, only working with the Tier 1s, you can have that same approach digitally as well. You focus on the main guys. You¡¯re working with Steam and Microsoft and Sony. But there are a lot of places to sell your game digitally, and this past year we leaned in on a lot of those places. We have good partnerships happening with GOG and Humble and other places where there¡¯s a different way to generate revenue digitally. We¡¯re also looking seriously at how we¡¯re managing subscription promotional opportunities, what those new revenue opportunities can be for the game. I¡¯ve said this before, but our job as a publisher is to focus in on getting the best commercial result for our games and our studios. Making sure that we¡¯re monetizing all of the different new ways that you can play a game is our goal and what we focus on doing.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: It sounds like you had to work a lot harder the first couple of months. For companies like Maximum, is that just the general nature of things? Or do you think we just weren¡¯t prioritizing how we do our business?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: Mostly, it¡¯s prioritizing how you do your business. It¡¯s very easy ¡ª it¡¯s that 80-20 role. 80 percent of your revenue is going to come from 20 percent of customers, so you end up paying a lot of attention to that 20 percent, and you forget there¡¯s a lot more out there. We don¡¯t want to leave any money on the table. We want to make sure we focus broadly on all of the different revenue opportunities that we can potentially get. You don¡¯t want to leave 20 percent of your revenue opportunity on the table. A lot of it is just human nature. You focus where you get the biggest bang for your buck, for sure. But what we did during the pandemic is take a look at where else we could be generating money, where else we could get a good result, and add that to the portfolio of what we¡¯re working on.

¡¡¡¡

¡¡¡¡Above: CrisTales is a Japanese-style RPG coming from Modus, a Maximum Games label.

¡¡¡¡Image Credit: Modus

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: You mentioned subscription. Maximum has a huge catalog these days with lots of smaller games, older games, what you might call Double-A games. Have you thought about looking into a monthly subscription for Maximum?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: It¡¯s a good idea, and we¡¯re looking at that. We¡¯re running the model on how that would look. What we do know about gamers, though, is they¡¯re looking ¡ª they¡¯re already participating in a lot of subscription models. They might have a Humble Bundle, a Game Pass, other things from other companies that are larger and have more resources to put toward that. Right now, we think the best solution for getting the best result for our games is to participate in those other offerings that they¡¯re already doing. They just make more sense financially. They also make more sense for the gamer, to not have to do a bunch of different subscriptions.

¡¡¡¡We¡¯re in a bit of a cycle right now, with how all of these different subscriptions are going to work. We went through a huge consolidation ¡ª let¡¯s look at what happened on the other side, in TV. We went through everybody just having cable, and everything was consolidated into cable. Now we¡¯re going through a different thing where you¡¯re paying for subscriptions to a lot of different things. Right now I¡¯m paying for everything from Hulu to Netflix to Apple TV to Disney+. I¡¯m paying for a bunch of different subscriptions. We¡¯ll probably go back into some kind of consolidation on traditional entertainment. This is something that ebbs and flows.

¡¡¡¡You see it in exercise. We used to have everything in one club. Then it all diverged into Orange Theory, cycling, a bunch of different subscriptions to our exercise preferences. The same thing within games on those kinds of subscriptions. Right now people are participating in a lot of different ones. We believe that our best result right now is to participate in something that¡¯s existing versus creating another one. And I do think those will consolidate at some point.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: Was it hard to build up Modus this year, considering this was a newer initiative for Maximum?

¡¡¡¡Seelye:?It¡¯s a good point. The short answer is yes. It was difficult on the Modus side because one thing we didn¡¯t anticipate, but experienced with Modus, is a big delay in games. Moving to a distributed workforce, not just for us but for every one of our studio partners, worked overall. Everyone was able to continue to work and continued their creative efforts on their games. It just took longer. There were delays that people didn¡¯t anticipate in that distributed work environment. With Modus, we had to push a lot of the games we thought we would be able to launch in 2020 into 2021. Even the games we ended up launching in 2020 were much later than we thought we would be able to do. From a revenue standpoint, that was challenging, because we had to move revenue into 2021.

¡¡¡¡The other thing is just ¡ª overall, managing people¡¯s emotions during this time, and the frustration people had in having to innovate on an individual basis, on a work from home basis ¡ª being creative people, they really like running things by each other and working together on a project and sharing a screen so we both look at the same thing and talk about it. A lot of that innovation is difficult to do in a distributed work environment. Keeping people motivated and having an innovation mindset while they¡¯re creating a game was challenging through 2020.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: As a manager, to help promote idea sharing, what have you learned that works in a distributed environment?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: We¡¯re still learning. Not just us, but I think everybody is still learning how to make this work and how to deal with isolation and innovation together. Normally, those two words don¡¯t go in the same sentence. You¡¯re not innovative when you¡¯re isolated. It¡¯s about removing the isolation to the extent that we can.

¡¡¡¡What we found, honestly, is that it doesn¡¯t necessarily come from the virtual hangout events. That¡¯s what we did in the beginning. We had all of these Zoom cocktail hours or game nights and that kind of stuff to try to keep people socially connected. Which I think is important, but it also created a lot of fatigue, being in front of your computer and doing that kind of thing. What we¡¯ve found is allowing more time for specific work-related brainstorming discussion in a virtual environment, which is hard to facilitate, but we found really crucially important for innovation and problem-solving. One of the things that happens in the distributed environment is that everything is so highly scheduled. We have an hour. We start at 10:30 a.m., and we have a hard stop. We don¡¯t allow for enough time to creatively problem-solve. We tried to break up some meetings to have a problem-solving session next to something that was a bit more tactical check-in kind of session. Being purposeful on creating moments for innovation where people could problem-solve and talk about things more freely and less scheduled. We found that works quite a bit, to have those kinds of environments. Big breaks of time where we can have that instead of trying to say, we need to socially connect. I do think that we, as humans, need to socially connect, but at work, to drive innovation, we need, in this environment¨Cwe have to schedule innovation time. And so we started spending more time scheduling those events versus the social events.

¡¡¡¡Grand Theft Horse, of course.

¡¡¡¡Above: This ¡°Grand Theft Horse¡± game is another Modus production.

¡¡¡¡Image Credit: Jutsu Games

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: You work with a lot of small teams, especially on the Modus side. Do you have any stories of people sharing their tactics to develop a way to do socially distant game dev when they¡¯re together, but are still following all the protocols to keep themselves safe?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: One thing that multiple teams are doing, they¡¯re creating what for lack of a better term I call office hours, where everyone is working, but just on Zoom. You¡¯re not actually talking like we are right now. You just have Zoom in the background and we¡¯re working. Or what a lot of them are doing, they¡¯re using Discord. On the business side we tend to use Zoom more and have scheduled meetings, whereas on the game dev side you see a lot more sharing streams and having Discord servers open where everybody is on audio talking. Discord is an interesting platform for shared innovation and working together while you¡¯re not together.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: A local Realtor near me is having people gather in a park, where they¡¯ll sit 6 feet apart and work together. Have you heard of any studios working that way?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: I know that¡¯s happening with some of our studios, where they¡¯re meeting ¡ª one of our studio partners is in Israel, so they¡¯re a bit more free to do stuff now. But most of our studio partners today are still working from home. Our own Modus studio is in Brazil, and they¡¯re still 100 percent working from home.

¡¡¡¡Supporting women in a pandemic

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: How has the pandemic made it easier or harder when it comes to hiring women into game dev roles?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: A lot of the stats around women and the pandemic take a larger look than just the game world. It¡¯s pretty clear that the pandemic has had more women leave the workforce in this past year than joining it in a long time. It¡¯s been a really rough year for women, primarily because women still bear the brunt of most child care responsibilities. With everyone at home and all the children at home, the ability to work plus distance learning with your children and taking care of everything that needs to happen around the house with everyone in it was challenging. We saw a ton of women leave the workforce in this past year. I actually think this is a good time to encourage women to be in technology specifically, because if you¡¯re in the technology world, you¡¯re pretty set up to be able to work from home.

¡¡¡¡It¡¯s funny. Women always tend to go into roles that ¡ª I shouldn¡¯t make big generalizations like this. But if you head into a role where there¡¯s a lot of caretaking or you have to be there in person, there¡¯s not a lot of flexibility. Women going into tech have the ability to be pretty flexible. Or going into other kinds of roles like writing. Those roles tend to be a bit more flexible. This year is a good opportunity for women to look at different careers they can enter, such as gaming, such as technology, because you¡¯re able to work from home and work remotely. But it was a rough year.

¡¡¡¡Also, on a larger scale, women tend to start businesses without external capital. They start their own S corps, or they start businesses that don¡¯t require a lot of capital, because it¡¯s hard for women to raise money. Women don¡¯t end up starting tech companies, because the gating factors around raising money are so high. Those particular types of businesses were the ones that were really hurt through the pandemic. We saw a lot of women who focused on event planning completely go out of business this year. A lot of women had marketing agencies, other advertising and service agencies. They totally went out of business this year. Staffing agencies are another ones. Lots of women have staffing companies. Those got hit hard during the pandemic. It¡¯s going to take a lot of focused work to get women back into work and restarting their careers after the pandemic, once kids go back to school on things like that.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: What can managers do to help women either come into the industry, or help those who are already there?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: Listening. It¡¯s important for managers to listen to what¡¯s going on and what people¡¯s lives as a whole ¡ª people aren¡¯t just one thing. They have a lot of things going on in their lives. It could be caring for children or caring for elderly parents. It could be whatever is going. As a manager you need to listen and be as flexible as possible.

¡¡¡¡The other thing is, focus on the outcome, not the hours. Focus on the product that¡¯s being delivered by these employees and what their contribution is, not necessarily their face time or time in front of the screen or that kind of thing. I also think ¡ª we instituted a lot of things that were helpful for women, and for the company at large, like recording our meetings, so that people can look at them at different times. Being specific when a meeting is going to be audio only or video, so that people can set up properly or allocate time properly so that they know how to deal with their homes. We also offered an office space for people who really needed to get out of their house. We could say, OK, following all the protocols, you can feel free to go into the office and work at a desk for half a day or a day if you want to be in there. Even though our office remains closed today, it¡¯s still open for people who want to go in there following the protocols required in our county.

¡¡¡¡One of our employees had three kids, all distance learning, and had a big girl job where she had a lot of stuff to get done for work as well. During a key point in time in the pandemic, she just brought the kids into the office and they all sat at separate desks, socially distanced. They were able to have successful distance learning and she was able to work. A lot of it is just maintaining flexibility. I¡¯ll tell you what. We¡¯re so grateful we had such an adapt-or0die attitude prepandemic. Going into it, we were used to change being a part of the process. Pivoting wasn¡¯t a new thing for us. Where we started and where we are now are so different. We¡¯re a completely different entity today than we were even five years ago. We have such a culture of, we¡¯ll roll with it and figure out how to move forward. In the pandemic, that served us well.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat: As a manager, what have you learned are the most important lessons that you¡¯ll carry forward?

¡¡¡¡Seelye: Listening and being flexible, which we talked about, those are two of the main ones. I also have increased empathy. I¡¯m going to try to increase empathy moving forward. That¡¯s broader than it sounds, I think. It¡¯s not just empathy for how someone feels. It¡¯s also empathy for people¡¯s overall situation. I don¡¯t think we thought about that in a work environment. All you cared about in a work environment prior to this, or you could tend toward this anyway¨Cyou would think of just how they are during the work day.

¡¡¡¡What the pandemic taught us is we had to think about how someone¡¯s whole life was going. We had to think about what was happening with their kids and their parents, who was ill in their family, whether they had a smaller house and were feeling a little cramped. Or they¡¯re frustrated work-wise because they can¡¯t connect with the rest of their team that they want to connect with. Empathy became a much more important skill and a much broader environment in which you had to be empathetic. You were looking at the whole person. I think that¡¯s great. I hope that after this we continue this path of looking at the whole person, how the whole person and their whole life fits into their work life.

¡¡¡¡GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Authenticator

¡¡¡¡Put multi-factor authentication in your pocket or on your wrist

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Outlook

¡¡¡¡Quick access to email, calendar, and cloud storage accounts

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Office

¡¡¡¡Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more, in one app

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft OneNote

¡¡¡¡The hidden gem of the Office family

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft OneDrive

¡¡¡¡Unlock a terabyte of cloud storage with a Microsoft 365 subscription

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Edge

¡¡¡¡For the first time in decades, Microsoft has a serious mobile browser

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Teams

¡¡¡¡One stop for video chats, meetings, files, tasks, and calendars

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft To Do

¡¡¡¡Keep track of Projects and tasks and send reminders to yourself or your team

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¡¡¡¡Remote Desktop Mobile

¡¡¡¡Connect to a desktop PC or server from your mobile device

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¡¡¡¡Microsoft Lists

¡¡¡¡Keep track of assets, inventory, issues, and more

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¡¡¡¡Work doesn’t stop just because you’ve stepped away from your PC. That fact explains why Microsoft has extended the reach of its productivity apps to mobile platforms. Today, you can find more than 70 apps from Microsoft in the App Store. That list includes plenty of games and consumer apps, as well as a few legacy titles that are deprecated. For this article, I focused on the top 10 productivity apps.

¡¡¡¡Each app listed here is free to download, but for maximum productivity, you’ll need a Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) subscription. Signing in with the credentials for an active subscription unlocks editing tools and grants access to the full allotment of cloud storage in OneDrive.

¡¡¡¡All of the apps listed here are available for installation on iPhone and iPad. A few, like Remote Desktop Mobile, are barely usable on a small phone screen but work well on the more expansive iPad display. In addition, you can install Authenticator, Outlook, and OneNote on Apple Watch, where the ability to receive and respond to notifications is useful.

¡¡¡¡http://www.muygratis.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/20210612152124-60c4d0f43888a.jpg

¡¡¡¡There are a tremendous number of authenticator apps available for iOS. Most of them handle the basic chores of generating Time-based One-time Password (TOTP) codes, which you can use to verify your identity when using a website or service that you previously set up on your mobile device.

¡¡¡¡So what makes Microsoft Authenticator different? In addition to generating TOTP codes like any other authenticator, it also accepts push notifications and allows passwordless sign-in on sites that use a Microsoft account or Azure AD credentials. In those scenarios, you don’t need to type in a numeric code; you just approve a prompt sent to your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch), using your fingerprint, face, or PIN to verify your identity.

¡¡¡¡Current versions of Microsoft Authenticator also work as a password manager, allowing you to fill in usernames and passwords on any iOS device and in the Edge browser on a desktop PC or Mac. You’ll need to use a Microsoft account (Azure AD isn’t supported), and you can import passwords directly from Google Chrome, Firefox, LastPass, Bitwarden, or Roboform.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡If you’ve used Outlook on the desktop, you’ll feel right at home with this mobile app. Outlook for iOS allows you to connect to all the Microsoft account types you’d expect, including Exchange, Office 365, and free Outlook.com/Hotmail accounts; it also syncs securely with Google accounts (Gmail and G Suite), Yahoo Mail, and iCloud. Making any of those connections gives you full access to mail, calendar, and contacts from the respective accounts, with excellent search capabilities.

¡¡¡¡Outlook’s signature feature is its ability to automatically sort important incoming messages into the Focused inbox and send everything else to the Other tab. Those aren’t separate folders or labels, just a two-tabbed way to display the contents of your inbox. You can train the algorithm by manually classifying messages if they’re sorted incorrectly, and of course you have the option to turn off Focused inbox if you prefer your own sorting.

¡¡¡¡OneDrive accounts connect neatly to Outlook, of course, but you can also add Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box accounts for quick access to files for sharing, and Outlook has dozens of third-party extensions available.

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¡¡¡¡Once upon a time, not all that long ago, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint were separate apps. Now the tools for creating, editing, and sharing files for all three document formats have been consolidated in a single Office app, along with a set of new PDF functions. (The app is free, of course, but unlocking most of its functionality requires a personal, business, or school account linked to a Microsoft 365 subscription.)

¡¡¡¡Although the formats are identical to those found on their desktop equivalents, the mobile app offers a few unique features. You can snap a picture of a document and turn it into an editable PDF or Word file, for example, or transform a picture of a table on a printed page into a range in Excel. From the Actions tab, you can choose a PDF file and add your signature (using a finger or an Apple Pencil), and convert a PDF to a Word file or vice-versa. There’s also an option to transfer files between a PC and your mobile device that works surprisingly well as long as the files are under the 30 MB size limit.

¡¡¡¡Office for iOS can connect to any cloud storage service that works directly with Office files, which includes Dropbox, Box, and Egnyte as well as a dozen or more smaller players. Google Drive is, alas, not supported.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡It’s a shame that OneNote is often overlooked in favor of flashier members of the Office family like Word and Excel, because it’s an absolutely first-rate productivity tool. You can use its freeform information gathering tools to take notes in a meeting or classroom, manage lists, keep track of receipts, organize research, and much more.

¡¡¡¡The iOS app include a handy widget that lets you add a new notebook page consisting of text, a list, or a photo. Use your iPhone camera to take a picture of a whiteboard and OneNote will clean up the image and recognize any text it finds, making handwritten notes searchable. You can also send emails directly to OneNote from Outlook on iPhone or iPad.

¡¡¡¡Of course, everything in a notebook is synced to OneDrive, where it’s available on your other devices and for sharing with other people who are working on the same project. (And a bonus: The Sticky Notes tab in OneNote for iOS syncs with the Sticky Notes app on Windows 10, where each note works like a digital version of the venerable Post-It.)

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡Every free Microsoft account includes 5 GB of OneDrive storage. If you have a Microsoft 365 account (home or business) that allotment expands to a full terabyte of cloud storage. From an iPhone or iPad, you can upload and download files to that cloud storage space; you also have the option to share them with other people.

¡¡¡¡If you have both a personal OneDrive account and a OneDrive for Business account, you can manage them both in the same app, switching between the two using tabs in the app. A camera button lets you turn your camera into a mobile scanner to capture documents, whiteboard content, business cards. You can also snap photos and instantly upload them to a OneDrive folder for use in a project.

¡¡¡¡The iPhone app includes an option to automatically upload all your photos to OneDrive as a Camera Roll backup in case your phone is lost or stolen.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡Two recent events make Edge an intriguing choice for default browser on an iPhone or iPad: First, Microsoft relaunched Edge as a cross-platform app based on the open source Chromium engine; then, with the release of iOS 14, Apple finally allowed iOS users to choose their default browser. The end result for iPhone and iPad users is a browser that is compatible with the market-leading Google Chrome but has a much greater emphasis on privacy.

¡¡¡¡Key privacy features in Edge include tracking prevention and the integration of AdBlock Plus, both of which can be toggled on a per-site basis. Its ability to sync favorites, history, and other settings across platforms while respecting that privacy make Edge worth considering.

¡¡¡¡For fearless souls that want to test preview releases, separate apps are available for Microsoft Edge Dev and Microsoft Edge Canary channels.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡The global pandemic of 2020 propelled Microsoft Teams into the limelight, alongside Zoom and a host of other video conferencing services. If your business or school uses Teams for remote working and learning, you’ll want to have the iOS app at hand for meetings and video chats when you’re away from your desk.

¡¡¡¡What separates Teams from more conventional video conferencing services is its integration with Microsoft 365 online services. That makes it possible for members of your organization or class or even a private group to talk face to face, chat, hold virtual meetings, share files, and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and other projects in real time.

¡¡¡¡You’ll also find a huge selection of add-ins for Teams, all of which work on your mobile device. There’s even a Zoom add-in, so you can stay in the Teams app while connecting to another group via Zoom.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡People who are passionate about to-do list software can be … well, passionate. And if you’re reading this section and spoiling for a chance to explain why Microsoft was foolish to replace Wunderlist with Microsoft To Do, thanks, but we don’t need to rehash that decision here. I feel your passion, though.

¡¡¡¡Microsoft To Do can hold its own in a feature battle with most alternatives, and if you’re looking to organize your post-pandemic life it’s probably a good choice. You can easily turn Outlook emails into tasks, create and share lists for work or home, and sync everything to the cloud for access in any device or in Outlook on your PC or Mac.

¡¡¡¡And it has dark mode. Need I say more?

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡The idea of running a Remote Desktop session on a small screen like an iPhone or iPad might seem odd. Until the first time you need to accomplish some task that requires a direct connection to a PC or server and you find that these Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions cam help you solve a problem from wherever you happen to be, without having to find a PC to connect with. (Granted, the task is much easier on an iPad, with a display that’s almost PC-sized.)

¡¡¡¡And when those are the stakes, this thing works. At least as long as the device on the other end of the connection is running Windows Professional or Enterprise or Windows Server, with Remote Desktop connections enabled. It even does audio and video streaming.

¡¡¡¡But let’s be clear: This app isn’t for casual connections to Windows PCs. It’s best suited for administrators who need to log on to a remote instance of Windows or Windows Server to perform some critical task. Most people are not going to use Remote Desktop Mobile to casually mirror your PC screen to your mobile device. But it’s nice to know you can.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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¡¡¡¡When you’re firmly entrenched in Microsoft’s world as a developer or IT pro and you have a job to accomplish quickly, you need a list. ?Boy, have we got an app for you.

¡¡¡¡Think of Microsoft Lists as OneNote without all the annoying paragraphs. You can use lists to track issues like customer support requests, or assets in your business, or customers or inventory or … well, you get the idea. The real secret of Microsoft Lists is not creating personal lists but rather in sharing lists with a team, complete with enterprise-grade security and customizable views that can keep everyone on the same extremely orderly page.

¡¡¡¡View Now at App Store

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