There’s nothing like a promise kept. And while parts of Microsoft seem to stumble badly every time they make a promise, the firm’s new Outlook team has had no problem keeping up a blistering pace when it comes to updating their mobile app for Android and iOS. And this week, it’s delivered another great set of updates.
Microsoft first released Outlook for Android and iOS in late January, just over two months ago. The original app was essentially a rebranded version of Acompli, which Microsoft had purchased in December 2014. At the time, the firm promised that it would quickly update this new Outlook app so that it could remove previous mobile apps like OWA and Outlook.com from Google Play Store and App Store, and consolidate around this one app. But to do so, Outlook would need to pick up some missing features.
Since then, Microsoft has steadily improved Outlook on Android and iOS, release updates roughly every two weeks. I haven’t posted about every single update, but the biggest one was in late February, when the software giant added a number of security-related features to the app.
Now Microsoft is back with more updates. These include:
Improved People experience. The People section in Outlook is now “a complete address book,” Microsoft says, with a unified view of contacts from all of the configured email accounts. Now, you can view each contact, launch a new email, start a phone call, map your way to their location, and easily find all the emails, meetings and files shared with the contact.
People is even better on Android. Thanks to “unique controls in Android,” People works even better on Google’s mobile platform. That is, the unified contacts view also includes any contacts stored on the phone, not just the contacts associated with email accounts.
Directory search. The People section can also be used to search your organization’s Office 365- or Exchange Server-based Global Address List (GAL), so you can find the contact details for people who are not in your address book. You can search explicitly for people in People, or do so implicitly by typing their name in the To: field of a new email message. (You can also find other items in your company’s GAL, including conference rooms, distribution lists and Groups.)
Improved Calendar experience. You can access a new three day view when you view Calendar in landscape view. (This is especially useful on larger devices like the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Microsoft says.) Additionally, Calendar now supports zero-length meetings (which I use all the time), a “Remove from calendar” action for cancelled meetings, and an improved day picker when creating and editing meetings.
Search highlighting in iOS. When you search for items in Outlook, the search term are now highlighted in the results, which is one of those very obvious features that requires little explanation. The only thing to note here is that it’s iOS-only for now. But it’s coming to Android soon, Microsoft says.
Fit and finish improvements. Microsoft says it has made a number of fit and finish improvements to Outlook. You can now “Select all” to perform bulk operations on messages in a folder (iOS-only for now, coming soon to Android). You can now undo bulk operations like delete and archive. You can now permanently delete items from your deleted items folder. And there are some localization and accessibility improvements too.
Microsoft plans to keep up the blistering pace and plans more updates for the near future, and it explicitly promises to support the recently-finalized MDM functionality in Office 365 “later this quarter.”