Android for the Windows Guy: Microsoft Outlook Alternatives

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Office 365, Outlook.com with 25 Comments

Android for the Windows Guy: Microsoft Outlook Alternatives

Yesterday’s post about Outlook for Android generated a lot of discussion about that app’s shortcomings. Here are some alternatives to consider.

To be clear, however, some readers misunderstand what I’m trying to do here, which is trying to adapt to Android. And I’m doing so from the perspective of a Windows user, which I am, so Outlook seems like it would be an obvious choice on this mobile platform. And I like Outlook for Android quite a bit, and the issues others have raised haven’t generally been a problem for me.

That said, I have known about some of Outlook’s missing features for a while now. And in reading your feedback, I’m reminded that all it takes—in any technology transition—is for one crucial feature to be missing to derail the whole thing. I have this issue when I try to use Mail and Edge on Windows 10, for example. I’d like to use these apps, but in testing, they’re always frustrating and I end up going back to what I was doing previously.

And this is the issue many are having with Outlook on Android. There’s no reason to discount these criticisms, as they’re very real and impact one’s ability to even use the app. I know from discussing the app with Microsoft that they are aware of the issues and are working to correct them. But that doesn’t help people on Android today. So let’s just be pragmatic about this and look at alternatives.

Here, specifically, what I’m concerned about are email and calendar apps that work with Microsoft and Office 365 accounts. Meaning Outlook.com (and its predecessors, like Hotmail) and Office 365 commercial. And within the confines of that requirement, two Outlook alternatives from the feedback. So let’s start there.

Nine

Several people recommended Nine for Android. This is very much an Outlook alternative in that it specifically—and only—supports all Exchange ActiveSync-compatible account types, including Outlook.com and Office 365. And like Outlook for Android, it is a true multifunction app that offers support for calendar and contacts, and tasks and notes, in addition to email.

Point being, if you’re a Microsoft guy, this is an app to check out. The issue for me is that my primary account is in fact Google-based (G Suite), and Nine only works with Microsoft accounts. (I do have several Microsoft-type accounts, but they are all funneled through Gmail on the back-end.) I hope to change that in 2017—am, in fact, plotting a company-wide move from Google to Office 365—but as of today, it’s a non-starter for me.

I did, however, recommend Nine to Mary Jo Foley, who has been using Outlook on Android and putting up with its weird problems for months. She described Nine as a revelation and has made the switch.

Gmail and Google Calendar

One of the weirder things I hear from Microsoft-leaning readers is that they’re not fans of Google, and that they will not use Google apps and services. I appreciate the whole taking a stand thing, but this is wrong-headed: On mobile and in the cloud, Google makes excellent products that are often best-in-class. And denying yourself their capabilities is self-defeating. I can’t imagine not using apps like Chrome, Google Maps, or Google Play Music, for example, and that’s true on both Android and iPhone.

Because my primary account is on Google, I’m in a Google ecosystem when it comes to email, contacts, and calendar. Generally speaking, this means Gmail (email/contacts) and Google Calendar. But I actually use Google Inbox, which is a simpler, next-generation Gmail client, on both mobile and on the PC (where I use the web client).

Google Calendar.

Google Inbox only supports Google accounts on Android. But Gmail and Google Calendar both also support Microsoft-type accounts (Outlook.com and Office 365). And if you can get over your the anti-Google bias and give these apps a chance, I think you will be surprised. Google Calendar, for example, is the best mobile calendar app, period.

And then there were two…

So there you go. I will connect Nine to my Office 365 commercial account for testing purposes, but I don’t really use it much in a real world sense, so this will just be an opportunity to look at the app. Until Microsoft fixes Outlook, I guess I’m back to Inbox and Google Calendar. Which, again, isn’t a huge problem as both are excellent. But I’d like to see Microsoft get its act together. They’re going to start losing people when the alternatives are as good or better than what they offer.

 

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Android for the Windows Guy: Microsoft Outlook Alternatives”

  1. slemay

    The biggest problem we've had with any Android based calendar / contact programs with Exchange, is that it doesn't give us the ability to look at other users calendars or contacts.  With sales guys, tech guys etc... using their cell phone more and more as their primary medium on the road, they need to be able to see other colleagues calendars and contacts but can't.  Does NINE offer this ability?  The full Outlook on a Windows or Mac allows for this - even the web GUI from Exchange allows this - but we really need the app to do this as well.

    • Narg

      In reply to slemay:

      I believe that if you setup system shared calendars and contacts it works perfectly in just about every calendar/contact program.  Just the personal shared ones have problems.

      • slemay

        In reply to Narg:

        I've yet to see that.  We've tried with OUTLOOK (Android) as well as Google's built in tools.  Back in the day we tried it with other programs and couldn't get that feature either.  Yes, of course we have calendars and contacts shared... but the Android software hasn't offered an option to open other people's calendars or contacts.  Hoping maybe this NINE program does??


  2. syed basha

    Really you provided us a grea and useful info about microsoft outlook for android phones and i also have an alternative for ms outlook in android and it is called tutuapp vip android

  3. mahela87

    Excellent guide on outlook for Android. You can get outlook app for Android for free using Tutuapp. You can download thousands of paid applications for free on this app store. All the latest paid apps and games are available for free readily on this app store. You just need to download tutuapp apk

  4. ziggy2692

    Nine is hands down the best email (exchange) app on Android that I have used.

  5. Vitor Canova Weingaertner

    A Nine user here. It fill in the gaps Outlook leaves.

    The most important is the ability to manage contacts. Outlook just make them available for the phone. If you try to create a contact it will miserably say it saved and you will list it.

    Another point is the granularity of snooze notifications. Nine has every imagined option you would ever think.

  6. BeckoningEagle

    I use Nine.  I love it, I am waiting for the iOS version to replace Outlook.  My biggest gripe with Outlook is that I can't tell it to automatically download selected folders.  I have to open the account and go to the folders to see if there is anything new.  With nine I have a VIP folder that can be set as my inbox.  The VIP folder is not a real folder but aggregates messages based on user names and domain names.  This way I have a folder with all my client e-mails a set as my default inbox.  It aggregates them from multiple accounts too, so just one folder to get all my important email. 

  7. wocowboy

    Outlook is wonderful on iOS, I am perfectly happy with it.

  8. BradWestness

    The deal-breaker for me with the built-in e-mail and calendar apps is that the calendar does not support Exchange accounts, so you're out of luck if you use an outlook dot com e-mail (my work also uses Office365, so no dice there either). It's a weird shortcoming since the e-mail app does support those types of accounts.

    I've been using Outlook, but it'd still be preferable if the Calendar synced with the one that's built into the OS.

  9. edzucker

    I totally agree with you regarding using Google services on Android. It it the only way to go. You just have to roll your eyes when it gets creepy. Mail and calendar are the best in breed.

  10. tlassen

    Another Nine user and fan here. I've been using it for several years. The app and its frequent updates have been outstanding. It's like a Material Design version of the Outlook desktop client for Android. It supports/integrates with Office 365 Exchange Online so well that no mobile email app compares with it. It also keeps me from switching to an iPhone :)

  11. Jeff Jones

    I sort of feel like moving to Office 365 is a bit like saying, back in the day, that you want to move to OS/2 Warp. At the time it was more impressive than Windows 3.1, but just couldn't build enough market share to take over. Office 365 might be worth experimenting with, but I fear it will eventually become another Windows Phone. The education market is overwhelming in favor of G-Suite (+Chromebooks), and Gmail is the gold standard in email platforms (aside from maybe Yahoo Mail which seems to be a favorite of the tech illiterate somehow).

  12. Albatross

    Paul,


    Nice follow-up article to yesterdays. I spent a couple weeks floundering in the darkness after switching to Android from Windows Phone and trying to use Outlook for Android (OfA). It took me that long to realize OfA didn't properly support contacts and to finally discover Nine.

  13. Daekar

    I use both Google and Microsoft products, but if you asked me which company I trusted more, I would definitely say Microsoft. There is just something about Google (beyond their questionable Silcon-Valley politics) that puts them in the same "just feels wrong" category as Apple.


    Maybe it's because Google and Apple are social-activist corporations and Microsoft is a bit more old-school, I don't know.


    I just installed Nine, and I have to say it's a nice change. I probably will stick with it for a while to see how it works.

  14. idgilbert

    I tested several options for my Outlook.com mail before deciding on Nine over a year ago. What won me over (other than the ability to customize so much of the UI) was the integration with the native Android Calendar and Contacts apps. I occasionally try other apps and have gone back to check Microsoft's progress on Outlook for Android from time to time. The bottom line is that Nine is the app Microsoft should have bought since they would already have everything missing in their current offering.

  15. aionon

    RE: Not a fan of google


    Paul, you should realize there can be other reasons not to be a fan of Google other than their products. While I find many of their offerings half baked, if they filled a need, I might use them, except I dislike the company itself and their politics, so wherever possible, I steer clear. Much like some folks won't patronize a store or movies or whatever for what they do, I do the same with Google.

    • jbuccola

      In reply to aionon:

      Sometimes it's just takes one app to tip the balance in favor of one platform or another. For me it's messaging, which is too important to my daily workflow.


      Unfortunately, iMessage so dominant because of the number of people that use iPhones in the US. And put simply, it "just works" (within the walled garden.) On the other hand, Microsoft and Google can't seem to figure out messaging. Microsoft is trying to consolidate everything to Skype. Google has a new messaging app every week.

  16. BlueCaret

    I've found "Business Calendar" to be a great calendar app for me. Highly customizable with great widgets!

  17. m.rubino

    I switched to Nine a couple of weeks ago and haven't looked back. For me, it "just works." I also love the dark theme.


  18. ttirrell

    So it's been a few months and Microsoft continues to improve their apps. Do you still recommend Android over iOS?

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