Microsoft this week released a new version of it’s mail app for iOS and it has been getting some early rave reviews and love;
It took me just five minutes to decide to switch to Outlook and delete the Gmail app from my phone. (Gmail has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. Messages don’t always load, even when I get a notification that a new email has arrived. Annoying!)
Here’s what I like about the new Outlook app:
- It syncs perfectly with Gmail.
- You can sync it to your Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive file-storage services, which makes emailing files a lot easier.
- It also syncs with Google Calendar, so you don’t need to open a separate app to get a look at your schedule.The “People” tab makes it really easy to get in touch with the people you email the most.
- You can quickly archive or delete messages with a swipe.
The new applications, Microsoft’s general manager of its Office division Julia White told me earlier this week, are based on the technology Microsoft acquired when it bought the email app Acompli for $200 million last year. “We brought that team in and it’s now a core part of the our Outlook team,” she told me.
It’s no surprise then that the Outlook apps will look and feel quite a bit like the original Acompli apps, too. Microsoft has already added a few minor Office-app like touches, including a colored ribbon-like UI, but if you’ve ever used Acompli’s apps, the new Outlook apps will mostly feel like a rebrand of that service.
In the end, I narrowed down my shortlist to a pair of practical, clean, and functional email apps: CloudMagic and Acompli, the latter of which is today being rebranded as v1 of Outlook for iPhone. Both let me quickly access my folders and switch between accounts, both provide informative email previews in the Notification Center, and both keep their extra features optional. Where Outlook pulls ahead is in the smoothness and speed of its interactions. To delete or archive an email, I need just a single, fluidly animated swipe. CloudMagic takes a swipe and a tap. Sure, it’s a small difference, but when you add up all those small delays over the course of a full working day, the difference between the two apps starts to feel a lot more tangible. Outlook also consumes less of my iPhone’s battery power when syncing in the background, which settles the choice for me.
First, this new Outlook (formerly Acompli) client will eventually replace other similar Microsoft mobile clients on Android and iOS, including Outlook.com and OWA. Doing so will simply require that Outlook pick up some functionality that is currently exclusively available in those other apps, like document rights management capabilities.
Second, this new integrated Outlook team is also tasked with creating the new “touch first” Outlook client that will be part of the Office apps for Windows 10 (i.e. “Office Touch for Windows’), so it’s fair to say that as these apps all evolve they will also converge from a functionality perspective. That is, if you look at these new Outlook clients for Android and iOS today, what you are seeing is the future of Outlook on Windows (at least on Windows touch devices).
This is exciting stuff.
I am currently testing the app out and so far I like it. The crucial functionality that the app offers is the ability to link to multiple cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive so that you can send attachments as links very easily and quickly. This is especially handy for my workflow for where I need to send files that are stored on my Dropbox account – I no longer need to use the Dropbox app to do this or in most instances, my Mac to do this.