When earlier in January 2015, Outlook for iOS and Android was announced, everyone wondered how the app will change the email process on phones. Till date, users usually opt for the in-built email and calendaring options present in the device. Be it an Android phone, a tablet or an iPhone, users always preferred the apps already provided in the device.
Though most of the user functions are handled by smartphones these days, users tend to avoid it when it comes to heavy email jobs. Some actions require many steps and the process can get complicated. For instance, sharing a file, managing the calendar and sorting multiple emails involves extensive steps. These do not work well on a phone. The Outlook 2016 app fantastically uses this small screen and offers you core tools to perform all the email related tasks.
Better features and better experience with Outlook 2016
To avoid email overload, the Outlook app has introduced a new feature. It bifurcates your mails into two separate tabs. One tab is for important e-mails that is titled ‘Focused’ and the unimportant ones are in a folder called ‘Other’. The mails in ‘Other’ folder still remain accessible but they do not come in between your focused emails and help you in not you missing an important mail. Every time you move a mail from inbox to Focused or Other folder, Outlook app learns your pattern and gets tailored further. As helping as this feature sounds, it isn’t anything revolutionary since Gmail has had these features for years now and it only feels like Outlook copied it.
Moving on, Outlook for iOS and Outlook for Android also has customizable swipe feature. Whether you want to move a mail, flag it, mark it as read/unread or schedule it, all you need to do is swipe it right or left. The unique feature is not a one-touch feature, but it helps in customizing mails as per your email habits. And while this feature definitely seems to make users do the same work quicker. This also seemed a bit too inspired from iPhone’s email app.
Outlook 2016 makes it lightning fast to find important emails and respond to them. With its predictive feature and easy process, it helps you find the required emails, files and contacts as well. In its small section called People view, you will find all your contacts with whom you communicate the most. This obviously makes sending email quicker because you don’t have to find your important contacts each time you want to send an email.
The best part has to be the way users can manage their calendar in the app. As the calendar is available in the app, there is better integration. There is an easy view that tells you details about meetings, invites and statuses of other events and you can use it while you are on the run. This calendar can also be synchronized with your phone’s own calendar so that you don’t have to juggle between two or three different calendars at once and get confused about your availability.
There is this feature called ‘Send Availability’. This feature helps you find available time in your calendar and sort meeting timings as per your availability. Basically, through this feature you can send you team members your availability details in the form of a calendar. All the available dates and time and distinctly highlighted and sent to the other user who can then arrange a meeting with you accordingly.
A feature that failed to impress was the ‘Schedule Email’ feature which doesn’t really do what you think it does. It actually hides an email for a specific amount of time set by the user. After that , the email reappears.
Syncing mails with cloud storage
Outlook 2016 has definitely made it easier to sync your mails with cloud storage and attach files directly from cloud. To make your job easier, you can insert a link to any file from OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Docs directly in your mail. This saves time for uploads and downloads and it also helps keep data more organized. Outlook is obviously more deeply embedded with OneDrive than with any other cloud storage.
Outlook for Android and iOS has been specifically designed with an easy to use interface for both iOS and Android. As the icons on iOS are familiar, it is easy to identify new mails, take actions to create new messages, reply and arrange them.
What we definitely like about the app is that while designing it, the makers kept the design integrals of iOS and Android in complete focus. The app works efficiently for iOS and Android, whether it is a phone or a tablet. The application makes good use of extended screens of tablets and iPads. You can easily unlock additional features like calendar week view and two pane email list. You can also preview your files making the app highly comfortable
The app also conveniently connects and syncs mail, contacts, calendar and files from Office 365, Exchange Online, Exchange Server (2007 SP2, 2010, 2013), Outlook.com (including Hotmail, Live, and MSN), Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! Mail.
The Outlook application definitely has better features than its predecessor when it comes to user experience and security. But the iOS version definitely has more features as compared to the Android one. Also, Microsoft’s Outlook Web Access (OWA) is still going to be around for some time but that’s only a matter of time. OWA is expected to be phased out soon and replaced by the new Outlook app.
It will definitely be interesting to see if Outlook will be able to become the primary email app for iOS and Android users like it has done for the Windows customers.