Microsoft announced this week that the web-based versions of Outlook will be updated starting in January with smart suggestions in new messages and automatic flight details in your calendar based on email confirmations.
Before getting to the changes, here a few notes about availability.
First, these changes will impact both Outlook on the Web—which is available to commercial Office 365 customers—and the consumer-oriented Outlook.com, which is generally available online, and to those with Office 365 Home and Personal subscriptions.
Second, the features will roll out first to customers who are previewing new capabilities ahead of general availability. For Office 365 commercial customers, that means those who have signed up for the First Release program. And on Outlook.com, that means those few customers who have thus far been granted access to he new Outlook.com Preview. (As you may know, Microsoft is making both of these web-based Outlook versions more visually and functionality consistent over time. The Outlook.com Preview is an early peek at that future.)
Finally, if you’re not previewing new Outlook features, both of these features will become generally available on the web in March 2016 and to Outlook for PC, Android and iOS in the first half of 2016. (Microsoft says it is “evaluating a timeline for Outlook for Mac.”)
Here’s what’s coming soon to Outlook on the Web and the Outlook.com Preview.
Smarter suggestions. Outlook on the Web learns as you use it more often, Microsoft says, helping you avoid sending email to the wrong people, and not sending email to the right people. It will bring up suggested contacts as you type in the To: or CC: field based on your usage. It will automatically suggest the right contacts even if you make spelling errors as you type. And it will prompt you to include a contact when you send an email to a group of people but fail to include someone who is usually included. “This prompt will not get in your way and will only show when Outlook is highly confident you want to add [the contact],” Microsoft claims.
Events from email: Airline flights. When you receive a flight confirmation email from a supported provider, Outlook will gather key information and automatically add it in your calendar, Microsoft says. That new event will be blocked out properly given the duration of the flight, and it will be configured to automatically remind you about the flight three hours in advance. Email confirmations from Expedia, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines will be supported at launch. And Microsoft will add more airline providers, and non-flight events, to this feature in the months ahead. (You can disable this functionality if you’d like as well.)
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