This week, Microsoft dramatically expanded the availability of its Send mobile app—which combines the brevity of messaging with the persistence of email—to both iPhone and Android, and in multiple markets.
Microsoft first announced Send back in July. At the time, it was available only on iPhone, and only for those with Office 365 business and school email accounts. This week, availability of the app has expanded dramatically. And it is now available on both Android (in Preview form) and iPhone, in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Denmark, and U.K. It is, however, still limited to Office 365 business and school email accounts.
And, yes, to answer the obvious question, a version for Windows phones is currently in the works.
So. How to explain this thing?
Send works with your existing email accounts. It is, ultimately, email. But it looks and works like texting by providing a simple messaging-like UI and eliminating the need for subject lines, signatures, and other email formalities. Send is designed for those times when you just want to send a short message to someone—”Are you in the office today?” for example, or “Are you coming to dinner?”—which require, in turn, just short responses (“Yes,” “no,” and so on.) In fact, Send includes a set of pre-made quick replies, and you can see when the other person is typing, much as with some messaging solutions.
If both people are using Send, the conversations will occur much like they do in any messaging app. But because Send is really using your email account, these messages are all going through your email service (Office 365 in this case) and are retained there, available in whatever email client you use, and are beholden to the rules established by the organization that owns the service (your employer or school).
With this week’s update, Send has also gotten better. It now supports conversation deletion, the ability to add other people to a conversation, support for direct messages that happen outside of a group conversation, location sharing, phone calls, and more.
I was initially a bit dismissive of Send, but this actually looks useful—though it would be even more so if it worked with multiple account types, and not just Office 365, and across account types, so anyone could use it—and is a great example of Microsoft thinking beyond standard and increasingly out-of-date productivity scenarios.
Remember that both apps require an Office 365 business and school email account.