Today, Microsoft announced its June updates for Office 365, which it says focuses on improving customer experience across Office apps on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Key among these updates are Office Planner, a preview of GigaJam, and improvements to Office inking on Android, Sway, and Outlook.
“June has been another busy month of updates across our Office apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android,” Microsoft corporate vice president Kirk Koenigsbauer explained in a new post to the Office Blogs. “We reached new milestones for Microsoft Planner and GigJam. We are also introducing Office 365 Advanced Security Management, new datacenter regions and the next cumulative feature update to Office 2016.”
Here’s a rundown of the new features you can expect as part of your Office 365 subscription. (Note that some features are for commercial customers only.)
General availability of Microsoft Planner
Microsoft Planner is generally available to Office 365 commercial customers, providing a new and improved way for businesses, schools, and organizations to structure teamwork and get more done.Check out the Microsoft web site for more information.
GigJam Preview broad availability
The preview version of Microsoft’s GigJam collaboration experience is now broadly available for users across platforms and devices to test. (This was announced earlier this month.) “GigJam is for people with a co-working mindset,” Microsoft explains. “It empowers you to spontaneously and ephemerally involve others in your work. Summon all the live information you need from across apps, then divvy it up by circling what you want to share and crossing out what you don’t. Control what others—inside or outside your organization—can see or even co-work on with you in real-time.
Microsoft expects to ship GigJam publicly later this year. You can learn more from the Microsoft web site.
Improved Office inking experience
Microsoft expanded its inking capabilities to Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Android phones and tablets and Windows phones this month, expanding on the work it did to bring inking to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on Windows desktop and iPad in January. (OneNote on Android already supported inking, and inking is coming to the Office apps on iPhone next month, Microsoft says.)
Shape Recognition is coming to Excel on Windows desktop and iPad, and it will be on iPhone next month. This feature “transforms rough hand-drawn shapes to perfect looking shapes, which in Excel can be used to easily build attractive dashboards, create custom button links and more,” Microsoft says. Shape Recognition is coming to PowerPoint iPhone next month, and Shape Recognition for Word is coming soon.
Visio for Windows desktop gets a new Draw tab with instant inking support so you can annotate and draw your feedback on complex diagrams and process flows.
And finally, OneNote for Mac is getting a phased rollout of trackpad-based inking and support for third-party stylus- and pen-enabled drawing tablets and displays.
Enhanced Sway capabilities
All Office 365 subscribers are gaining three new features not found in the free version of Sway: Password protection, higher content limits, and the ability to remove the footer that appears at the end of sways.
While the first and third of those are obvious enough, the middle one might bear a closer look: Now, you can create longer, more robust Sways that containe more images, videos, graphics and more, Microsoft says, making Sway more suitable for longer-form work like company training, student projects, and travel reports.
New Outlook experiences
Available first on Outlook for Mac and the web—and coming soon to Outlook for Windows, iOS, and Android, and the Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps—are some new travel and package delivery experiences that build off of Outlook’s ability to automatically add events from your email.
Now, Outlook will provide simplified summary cards for travel and package delivery events in your inbox and calendar which highlight the most important details. “You’ll be able to take quick action to check in for flights, change hotel reservations and track packages,” Microsoft says. “And you’ll get dependable and actionable reminders to stay on top of flight check-ins.”
More improvements for commercial customers
Office 365 commercial customers can also take advantage of the following new features and changes.
New Deferred Channel build. This build combines the February Office 2016 release with the last four months of security updates and reduces the frequency of feature changes to the Windows desktop apps while providing IT with extra time to validate add-ins, macros, and custom line-of-business applications.
New Office 365 datacenters in Canada and South Korea. A new Office 365 datacenter region is now generally available in Canada, offering in-country data residency, failover and disaster recovery for core data at rest to customers in that country. A new datacenter region is coming soon to South Korea as well.
Office 365 Advanced Security Management. Announced earlier this month, this feature is described as a new set of capabilities powered by Microsoft Cloud App Security, to provide enhanced visibility and control over your Office 365 environment. It helps you monitor security incidents and identify high-risk and abnormal usage with threat detection, Microsoft says, and tailor Office 365 with granular controls and security policies.