Outlook has been redesigned to take advantage of the capabilities of mobile platforms, with new features introduced for iOS and Android smartphones and devices.
Depending on audience and demographic, 20% to 75% of emails will be opened by mobile users. It’s understandable that Microsoft is now focusing on iOS and Android platforms for Outlook upgrades — which may substantially change the user experience for those who are frequently out of the office or using their email while on the go. Outlook’s current redesign is intended to bolster the ability to easily share and communicate, while also taking advantage of the unique format that mobile devices may offer.
Switching Between Accounts Easily
Outlook now makes it easier to manage multiple accounts. The average user today has at least two email accounts, both for personal use and business use — and they may even have more if they separate their accounts for different platforms, entertainment, school, or hobbies. With easy motion controls, users are able to navigate between accounts or even consolidate accounts into a single inbox, so they can look through their emails faster and sort them based on current relevancy.
Sorting and Searching through Directories
In addition to being able to easily sort through accounts, users are going to be able to quickly sort through folders — moving emails based on their priority and their category, and looking through different categories as desired for the emails that they need. Microsoft has made it easier to navigate through the system as a whole with the use of context-sensitive gestures, which are designed to be intuitive and easy. Altogether, this will make the experience of utilizing the platform both simpler and faster.
Replying to Emails Faster With Predictive Text
Emails are now using context-sensitive clues to determine what you may mean to say, reference, attach, and discuss. As you write your email, predictive text will insert other Outlook-using user names, and include them in tags so that you can quickly finish your thought. By tapping on the predictive text, it is automatically included. Outlook’s predictive text has been steadily improving with new machine learning technologies, and is now able to easily correct and predict many casual conversations. The ability to tag other Microsoft users is important, especially for business users.
Searching through Emails Quickly and Easily
Historically, searching through emails could be incredibly difficult — and take a long time. Outlook now puts its search function at the very front of the toolbar, making it easier to quickly search for the documents that you need. That means you have to spend less time sorting through your inbox and can instead spend more time reading and replying to the emails that are important to you. New relevancy algorithms are also designed to promote the most relevant search results to the top, so that it’s more likely that you can find what you’re looking for the first time.
Making Contacts Easier to Update
Microsoft has made it easy for users to update their Office 365 contacts through their mobile Outlook accounts, which can be especially helpful for those who frequently network or need to keep track of large numbers of contacts in either their business or their social lives. An “at a glance” feature also makes it easier for users to view their contacts and see all of their details quickly — and the Outlook directory will sync to the iOS and Android directory, consolidating all of your contacts into a single easy-to-access space.
More Details through a Visible Design Format
Overall, Microsoft has improved its user experience by adding more information into its UI. Where there used to be only a few details visible on emails, there are now far more — such as who the email has been forwarded to, short cuts to share emails, and more. More of the actual conversation is shown when conversation threads are viewed, which makes it easier to catch up on conversations quickly — and conversations will automatically open to the first unread message so that you can catch up where the conversation left off.
Improved Performance on Mobile Devices
Finally, Microsoft has also added some improvements, such as data caching, to its overall Outlook experience. This is particularly intended to improve performance on mobile devices, where resources may be at a premium. With Android devices specifically, there can be a very wide array of system capabilities, ranging from the low end to high end of the spectrum. Better usage of resources means that it’s easier to read and respond to emails quickly, and that the system itself will run faster and smoother — especially during processor-intensive tasks, such as searching.
As mobile usage continues for services such as email, it’s likely that Outlook will continue improving. Web applications are becoming the way of the future, especially cloud-driven applications that can improve accessibility and collaboration. Additional features are currently in the works for Outlook, including intelligent search abilities, powered by Microsoft Graph. To keep up to date on further information about Microsoft’s collaborative technologies and other similar business-focused IT news, contact Digivie in Ottawa at (613) 277-2312