Microsoft Announces a Slew of Mobile App Updates

Posted on February 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365, Mobile, Android, iOS, iPadOS with 13 Comments

Microsoft is making sweeping updates to its productivity apps on mobile, including Outlook, Teams, the previously-announced Microsoft Lens.

“We’ve explored the evolving needs of people’s mobility and connectivity and we are announcing a number of new Microsoft 365 mobile-first capabilities that help people bring balance to their day,” a post credited to the Microsoft 365 Marketing Team reads. “This includes organizing and transforming their physical world such as documents, photos, and live-action video into digital assets, and offer secure ways to help protect sensitive information.”

Here’s some of what’s new. It’s impossible to even try to document all of this in a readable, easily-digestible way.

Outlook for iOS. Outlook is adding conversational AI technology in “the coming weeks” with Cortana, which Microsoft describes as its first foray in delivering “interactive, voice forward assistive experiences that aim to provide helpful ways of organizing your daily life.”

Teams. Microsoft Teams will soon add user-created video content collaboration, enhanced with intelligent scanning technology from Microsoft Lens. Teams is also picking up some new Cortana features, with Microsoft bringing these capabilities beyond U.S. English to English in Australia, Canada, U.K., and India.

Microsoft Search. Microsoft Outlook, Teams, and Office are also getting new Microsoft Search capabilities, including support for natural language queries in English in the U.S. In Office mobile on Android, you can use Microsoft Search to find files you need using natural language.

Micro-tasks. Microsoft is adding a bunch of so-called “micro-tasks” to various apps, like quick forms and polls in Office and Teams a daily weather forecast in Outlook mobile calendar.

There’s more, but it’s a mess. You can check out the original Microsoft post for more information. Good luck.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Microsoft Announces a Slew of Mobile App Updates”

  1. jdmp10

    I know being platform agnostic is Microsoft's play the last few years but it's still not easy seeing screenshots for their apps being mostly on iPhones and iPads.

  2. kingbuzzo

    Microsoft search is a game changer for me...just don't tell anyone it's affiliation

  3. crunchyfrog

    I remember when Cortana was a good idea and enjoyed using it. Now I cringe when setting up Windows 10 and have to hear, "A little WiFi here..."

  4. b6gd

    I want the option, to have replies in Outlook for iOS at the top of the conversation vs at the bottom. I do not like this in gmail and I do not like it here either. I stick to the Apple mail app for this reason only.

  5. red.radar

    I am not even sure what this means:

    "interactive, voice forward assistive experiences that aim to provide helpful ways of organizing your daily life.”

    Sounds like the Cortana team is like the evil blob that can't be killed but keeps bleeding into other teams and polluting their products.

    • dkrowe

      In reply to red.radar:

      My thoughts, exactly. But watching the video in the link actually makes it seem like it might be useful. It's your voice they are referring to, not Cortana. "Change subject...", "Add (recipient) ...". Their contention is that it is faster (or will be) than typing on a mobile screen. We'll see. Agree that the marketing-speak misses the point.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Oftentimes I'll put BS is quotes so people don't think that came out of my mind. :)
  6. jdawgnoonan

    Meanwhile we wait years for updates to the Windows Calendar and Mail apps. The experience on my phone’s free Outlook client should not be as superior as it is when compared to what is free on Windows.

    • Paul Thurrott

      They wasted so much time pretending that Mail, in particular, was great and an example of what UWP could do instead of facing reality and just fixing it. They're finally doing that now at least.
  7. Scipio Magnus

    In reply to whistlerpro:

    It is already available on android. it works well.

  8. jeffrye

    What I'd really like them to do is to add the ability to update all future events in a series on Outlook calendar. I can change 1 event or all events but not all future events. It's very frustrating.

  9. ponsaelius

    I understand the idea of a voice assistant for productivity. However, my personal use of voice assistants is as an "always there" product. In the house Alexa does heavy lifting on music, the one lamp in the far corner of my living room, weather, TV suggestions and Amazon deliveries. Cortana used to do a lot on my Windowsphone for me including directions. Today that is done by Siri.

    The one thing I never used voice assistants for was Outlook. I assume they have telemetry to say business needs this. Otherwise it sounds like Cortana is on life support.