Some Thoughts About Outlook Mobile Add-Ins

Posted on February 3, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in, Office 365, Dev, Mobile, iOS, Android, Office with 10 Comments

Some Thoughts About Outlook Mobile Add-Ins

This week, Microsoft announced that it is starting to implement add-ins in Outlook Mobile, starting on iOS. This is an important step for Outlook Mobile and for mobile productivity apps in general.

As a quick historical aside, it is interesting to remember that other members of the Office Mobile product family support add-in functionality too. In fact, Microsoft announced that it was bringing add-ins to Office Mobile almost two years ago. This kind of capability is an important step in advancing mobile apps, turning them from toys into true productivity tools, I think.

Looking at Outlook specifically, Microsoft has done some nice work updating and consolidating its clients across Windows desktop, Mac, the web (both and Outlook on the web, which is part of Office 365 commercial), and now mobile. Most amazingly, this consolidation includes add-in compatibility: The same add-ins can work across all of these different Outlook versions, including mobile.

Outlook Mobile for Android and iOS have long supported other forms of extensibility too. In addition to working with email accounts (and their associated calendars, contacts, and tasks), Outlook Mobile supports cloud storage accounts like OneDrive (and OneDrive for Business), Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. And it supports Calendar apps from Evernote, Facebook, and Wunderlist. This surprisingly versatile mobile app in some ways is even more inter-connected than the desktop versions of Outlook.

And now we have add-ins, which are a new form of extensibility that address your email inbox.

“With these add-ins, Outlook will help you accomplish awesome things you simply couldn’t do before from email,” Microsoft’s Javier Soltero wrote this week. “Add-ins for Outlook help you transform your inbox into a ‘do-box’ and accomplish tasks quickly—right from your email.”

As I reported yesterday, add-in support is currently available only on iOS, but it is coming to the Android version of Outlook soon, Microsoft says. But that is only part of the story: On iOS right now, add-ins are only available now “to Office 365 customers”—I assume Office 365 commercial customers, but that is unclear—while non-paying users will get this capability “gradually.”

As usual, I’m striking out here, and I’d really like to test this functionality.

Looking at Outlook Mobile on my iPhone 7 Plus, I don’t see any add-in interface. (When it’s available, you will see a new Add-ins entry in Settings.) And I have both kinds of Office 365 accounts (consumer via Office 365 Home and commercial via Office 365 Business Premium).

So I will wait. But if you’re a developer, you can find out more about developing cross-platform Outlook add-ins on the Office Dev Center. And be a part of making mobile apps more sophisticated.


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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Some Thoughts About Outlook Mobile Add-Ins”

  1. 4853

    This integration isn't at all important to me. I wish they would at least try to match the features of desktop Outlook by adding support for Search Folders, Categories, Tasks, Notes, SharePoint Integration, etc.

    I've stopped using Outlook due to too many frustrations and I'm now using Spark on iOS for email. It is fantastic.

  2. 5234

    How much do developers have to pay to get in on Outlook add-ins, or as I like to call them "ad-ins"?

  3. 442

    I'd use Outlook Mobile, it is nice in some functions, except this app EATS BATTERIES!  No thanks.  I find the OEM mail setup for either iOS or Android to be just enough to get the job done efficiently without overkill.

    • 1043

      In reply to Narg:

      Looking at the battery usage of Outlook on my iPhone 7, Outlook used just 1% of the battery in the last 7 days, same as the built-in Apple apps. By comparison, GMail used 3%. I am a System Administrator on multiple system and vendor mailing lists, no slouch in the sheer volume of email I have to deal with. If it has been several months since you last tried Outlook, give it another try.

  4. 696

    Add-ons are there on iOS.  ??

  5. 4801

    when you update Outlook Mobile IOS, you will add-ons in emails.

    One question, why is OneNote not an add-on, in the Outlook desktop, the ability to send an email to OneNote is helpful, Cloud Magic (email client) has had this ability for over a year.

    I had also asked Brad about Wunderlist, it sounds like it will soon be an killed as a service.

    For commercial customers, it would be awesome to have MS Planner as an add-on, many emails are requests for tasks to be completed, converting tasks to emails on mobile would be helpful (I am testing Dynamics 365, I think you can convert emails to Dynamics 365 tasks


  6. 820

    Limited to O365 users?  how's that?  it looks at your email account (one of the many you could have) and sees if it's O365 and if yes, unlocks the option?  /sigh!

    • 603

      In reply to Dashrender:

      Add-ins are installed into your Exchange mailbox which is why they require a specific backend. Unlike the older COM add-in model, these add-ins will follow you and surface automatically in Windows, Mac, Web and Mobile clients. They are supported in Exchange Serve 2013 and 2016 as well so it isn't limited to just O365. They will not however work with non-exhange mailboxes. Hope this helps clarify a little.

  7. 5783

    and we still don't have contact synchronization working. Very close to moving completely off, the outlook desktop client, and the mobile. That would leave the core MS office apps in my stable. Little by little I leave the MS orbit.

  8. 5539

    Had to restart my iPhone to see Add-Ins in the Outlook settings.