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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Microsoft Outlook App for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android

Overall, I've been satisfied with the iOS mail and calendar apps. They are relatively easy to set up, and offer most of the features you need in a business-level system. So when I noticed the new release by Microsoft of Outlook for iOS, I wasn't too excited. Why replace something that works just fine, especially when the existing app is an iPhone/iPad default program? Why? One word: Attachments.

I haven’t explored all of the functions and options yet, but after about 5 minutes of trying the app on my iPhone, I set it up as my default email program. The main reason is that you can link your Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Docs accounts, and can then easily attach any file (or you can take a photo) to an email you are composing. For me, this one feature sealed the deal.

Tap the attachment "paperclip"

Choose files from Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Docs, Photos

Preview and attach your file

Very cool!

I haven't yet performed a thorough evaluation, but I did notice that you cannot edit existing calendar entries unless they have not yet occurred. This is a problem if you want to update your calendar entries after they occur with notes or other changes. The iOS calendar app does allow you to do this. Also, you cannot use the “Categorize” feature (color-coding found in Outlook) in either the iOS or the new Outlook apps. I hope to see further improvements to the app to make it even more like Outlook. Overall, the interface is nice, but I wouldn't remove the iOS versions yet.

UPDATE: 2/1/2015 Update - I noticed this morning that you can access and place a phone call from a telephone number displayed in the Outlook calendar, but it will not access directions via an address, where the default iOS app will. Looks like the default calendar still has some advantages.

UPDATE: 2/3/2015 You can only edit a future event that you have created on the iPhone, using the app. Tapping it gives you an “Edit” option in the top right corner. Events created other ways cannot be edited. The calendar part of the new Outlook app still has a way to go. Also, Jeff Richardson just posted a nice review of the app this morning on iPhone JD.

UPDATE: 2/12/2015 Some functions (such as searching in Contacts) seem to trigger a bug in the iPad version of the app where you can only see 1/2 of the keyboard. Rotating the iPad doesn't help. If this happens, you'll have to restart the app to fix it. I haven't see it happen with the iPhone app, however. 

The free iOS app for iPhone and iPad is available now, and a preview version of Outlook is available for Android. The app is free on iTunes and Google Play.

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