Outlook Mobile Support Makes Android Wear Interesting Again

Posted on April 16, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Office, Office 365 with 0

Outlook Mobile Support Makes Android Wear Interesting Again
It’s hard to keep up with the rapid release and updating of Microsoft mobile apps on Android and iOS. Case in point: Outlook Mobile is just now adding support for Android Wear devices. And I am surprised to discover this wasn’t already a feature.

Android Wear, of course, is Google’s wearable platform. And while I’ve not used it as much as, say, Microsoft Band, I’m on my third Android Wear device—a second-generation Moto 360—and find the platform to be much more usable and efficient than Apple’s mostly-terrible Watch. (Obviously, Apple Watch is a beautiful physical device, but the user experience is a disaster.)

But if there’s one thing all three of these wearable platforms—Android Wear, Apple Watch, and Microsoft Band—have in common, it’s that their single most useful feature is to act as an early-warning system for smart phone-based notifications. That is, when you receive a text message, phone call, email, or other similar notification, the wearable will vibrate, and you can look at your wrist to see whether it’s something you need to deal with, without first having to pull your phone out of your pocket. In some cases, you can even respond in simple ways, right from the wearable.

(This fact is one of many reasons why I still feel that Microsoft Band is the superior wearable: It provides exactly the right mix of functionality and design, and it does so at much lower prices than the competition. But I digress.)

For Outlook Mobile specifically, those who stay in the Microsoft ecosystem have been set for a long, long time: There are high quality Outlook Mobile apps for Windows 10 for PCs and Mobile, and you can access Outlook Mobile (phone) notifications from your Microsoft Band as you’d expect.

Those who choose Apple’s mobile devices also get a high-quality Outlook Mobile experience. Outlook Mobile for iPhone is the best Outlook client Microsoft’s ever made, and when Microsoft started embracing Apple Watch in 2015, it of course released Outlook Mobile for Apple Watch (via the iOS app).

But I’m surprised to discover Microsoft never fully committed to Outlook Mobile on Android Watch. Researching this—via about 5 minutes on Google.com, someone had to do it—it appears that many users had been resorting to third party solutions. But with this week’s update—spotted by Android Central first, I think, though I’m still not seeing the update here—finally brings Android Wear users the real thing.

This week, we’re bringing the best of Outlook to Android Wear. Stop reaching out for your phone, everything is now happening on your watch. Check your Outlook notifications, read your new emails and reply with pre-set messages or voice dictation right from your wrist. It’s never been that easy to manage your inbox.

I’m very curious to see how this works, and how it compares to the Apple Watch experience. I’ll keep checking back.

You can download Outlook Mobile for Android from the Google Play Store.


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