08 Apr Microsoft Launches Outlook Web App For Android
The Build 2014 Microsoft Developers Conference and Microsoft Exchange Conference both took place last week and with these we saw a host of Microsoft news and updates. From news about an update to Windows 8.1 to the official announcement of Cortana, it’s been a busy week for Microsoft.
Amongst all the exciting news, Microsoft revealed that they have also launched a version of the Outlook Web App for Android. The Outlook Web App offers quick and easy access to Outlook emails, contacts and calendars.
Microsoft have said that the app was created in response to the growing demand of mobile email access. “We know that nearly half of emails are now first seen on the phone. So it’s clear that phone is becoming the primary screen for communications. This means we need to have the best email and communications experience on all phones,” Microsoft wrote last week.
Android users have had to wait a year longer than iPhone users for an Outlook Web App, but it’s finally here and just in time to include all of new Outlook features announced at the Exchange Conference.
One of the most talked about updates to the Outlook Web App is a feature currently called ‘Clutter.’
Microsoft has recently released a slew of intelligent, pre-emptive software and Clutter is the latest.In essence, Clutter is an optional feature designed to declutter your inbox by allowing you to more easily delete emails but also by learning what you don’t want to read.
“There should be a way to separate out unimportant items from important ones without having to set up and manage large numbers of inbox rules… which can get complicated very quickly.This is the core goal of clutter,” Microsoft wrote on their blog.
Most people spend a decent chuck of their working days trying to manage their ever growing stack of emails and Clutter has been created to try and make this process easier.
Using the intelligence of Office Graph, Clutter notices and learns your behaviour and uses this to work out what is important and what is junk. If you tend to ignore and never open Wine Club emails Clutter will learn that they are unimportant and mark them as clutter. Whereas, if you tend to open and reply to emails from your boss, they’ll be marked as important and ‘not clutter.’
All of the unimportant emails will be grouped together under a ‘clutter’ and can easily be deleted all in one go. Great news for anyone who hates the tedium of deleting emails individually.
Enhanced Document Collaboration
The Outlook Web App will include features designed to simplify document collaboration. You can more easily share and collaboratively edit files as the OWA will be fully integrated with OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution.
The web app allows users to share files stored in the cloud as attachments in emails. To improve context and to keep everything in one place, Microsoft have directly integrated the Office Online feature. Users are able to view the original email conversation and the document side by side, even allowing for editing to be made in this view.
To tackle issues with document versions, Microsoft Office Online will also allow users to co-author a document in real time. This does away with the need to keep track of which uploaded version is the latest.
Editing permissions will be available to anyone included in the email link to a document in the cloud. If you prefer to restrict who can and can’t edit the document, Microsoft has made it possible to do this directly through the email message.
Groups is a new concept that Microsoft debuted at its SharePoint Conference.
The basis of the idea has been borrowed from the Microsoft owned enterprise social network, Yammer. Yammer ‘Groups’ are conversation feeds that you can join or create and are designed to help with document and project collaboration.
Microsoft has now decided to introduce this concept to Outlook. On the far left hand side of Outlook, below the folders, there will be a new tab called ‘Groups.’ It is here that you will see a list of all of your Groups, either synced from your Yammer account or created in Outlook.
This new feature will allow users to create a space where multiple people can discuss, share information and work on a particular project. No more lost emails or people left off replies, with all conversations and information stored on the one feed for all to access.
Another handy feature, each Group has its own calendar so everyone involved in a project will automatically know about and be invited to any relevant meetings or events.
While these new features may not be that exciting for the average consumer, they are a welcome breath of fresh air for those in business. These enhanced document editing and group collaboration features will help streamline the processes involved in having multiple people working on one project.
Bringing these great features to mobile devices is great news for businesses heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem as it will allow them to make the most out of mobile technology.
Unfortunately, these enhanced document collaboration features and the Outlook Web App are only available to Microsoft Office 365 customers and won’t be available until the end of the year. Watch this space.