Every month, new mobile email applications are competing to be my main work one. I must admit that every month I try a new one in the hopes that it will boost my productivity and reduce the waste from replying, archiving and forwarding work emails. Today I would like to review the new Outlook iOS App from Microsoft.
My device of choice is the iPhone 6 and I have used the default email app for only a period of one month or so. It’s generally nothing special and one that I end up dreading over time. In the past I have tried Hop, which is an email app that turns emails into chat friendly threads. I got really tired of feeling like I was IM’ing someone so it didn’t last long. For the past year or so I was using Mailbox (made by Dropbox). What I really liked was the sliding feature for getting through emails quickly. Mailbox was simpler and more intuitive (to me) than the Gmail App.
Past experience with Outlook
In the past, I have used various versions of Outlook for the desktop and ended up being pretty disappointed. It was feature rich, but it was a bit of an overkill even when I started doing advanced things such as forwarding rules and filters. I considered it pretty clunky and just a symbol of the “old way” of doing business in corporate America. In fact, I was so dissatisfied with Outlook that for my main projects I committed the entire organization to using Google for Work and their entire productivity suite.
Outlook for iOS
I decided to give Outlook for iOS the old college try and was pleasantly surprised. It worked with my Google mail accounts and was really responsive. Here are the major features that caught my attention:
- Focused vs other mailbox: Outlook filters what it thinks is your most important mail. Gmail does this as well, but its filters get it wrong sometimes and it has resulted in me missing an important piece of mail. Outlook has been on point and this has saved me time from digging through junk to get to the substance.
- Sliding actions: Like Mailbox, Outlook has sliding features that let you handle mail quickly and efficiently.
- Calendar integration: My favorite feature is the calendar integration. Normally, I would agree to a meeting via mail and then have to go to my calendar app. However, with Outlook I can do this pretty quickly and check my schedule right on the app without ever going to calendar. This is a big win in terms of productivity.
- File Handling: File handling is also shown as a standalone screen on the app. Even with having this app for a few weeks, this little feature has saved me tons of time digging through emails for finding one attachment that I needed to review.
Ultimately, I think Microsoft has done a really good job with delivering on a great email experience for my iPhone. For a company that seemed to be a decade behind on mobile, it was an impressive show of what the new CEO (Satya Nadella) has in store for Microsoft’s future. I agree with Nadella’s notion of a cloud-first, mobile-first world, and think that the company is surely taking steps in honoring that premise.
Now that Microsoft has recently acquired Sunrise Calendar, I am excited to see what Microsoft has in store for helping me be more productive.
Disclaimer: Microsoft holds the trademark for Outlook and the Outlook app icon. I claim no rights over it and the images that include the app icon are from Microsoft.com.