Microsoft has released its Outlook mail client for iPhone and Android with the intention of enticing users into ditching their existing mail apps. And it is certainly an alluring prospect. At least on iPhone.
While Android owners are already serviced by great mail clients that do just about everything in the one app, the iPhone equivalents always seem a little half-baked. Apple's default Mail app allows you to connect to different types of accounts, but is bare-boned. Some services have their own dedicated apps, so you have to use those instead.
Outlook for iPhone combines many of the features we use on a daily basis in the one application, so immediately on launch we realised that we could use it as a one-stop email shop for nigh-on everything we needed to do. And it has a couple of extra interesting features, to boot. That's why we thought we'd let you know about the reasons we're switching to it in case you fancy giving it a try too.
1. Multiple account support
As well as link with your Outlook account - which is a given - Outlook for iPhone will sync with a Microsoft Exchange email address, iCloud, Gmail and Yahoo. You can have them all fed into the one app and while Apple Mail does the same thing, you can do more with the mail aggregation in Outlook.
You can filter your view to just the one account or have everything appear together and there are two in-boxes, with "Focused" automatically suggesting the most important or interesting emails, and "Other" being a list of less relevant mail.
All emails can be scheduled to reappear in your inbox at a given time. That way you can remind yourself of important information that you might otherwise have forgotten.
Just swipe an email from left to right and you will get the option to schedule the message to reappear at the top of your queue "in a few hours", "this evening", "tomorrow morning" or even set a specific time.
3. Cloud attachments
You can also link the Outlook app to your cloud storage services. OneDrive will be linked already through your Outlook account, but you can also link it to an iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox or Box account.
This is important when adding attachments to emails as you can choose from files stored on any of your cloud services. Alternatively, you can attach files from emails sent to you through any of the email accounts. And, of course, you can attach photos either stored on your iPhone or taken that minute through the camera.
A biggie for iPhone owners, your calendar is built directly into the Outlook app. This will show all entries you make, national holidays, birthdays of contacts, that sort of thing. And it will do so from all linked accounts that feature a calendar option, aggregating the results in one place.
You can choose what details to show as well, using simple sliders. And change the colours based on which account they come from.
A handy contacts menu lists all the people and their email address that you have had recent contact with, which filters all of their recent emails to and from you when you tap on their name. It's incredibly handy when you need to find a specific email quickly.
In addition, the app has a quick filter option for inboxes which can wheedle out emails that are still unread, flagged or have attachments.
There is one small thing we're hoping will arrive in a future update as it doesn't seem to be possible to do with Outlook for iPhone right now and that's add a normal, external POP3 email account. Unless your account is with one of the big boys or uses a Microsoft Exchange server you don't seem to be able to link it.
Hopefully that will be rectified soon as it will spell the final nail in the coffin of Apple Mail for us.
You can download Outlook for iPhone and iPad on iTunes now.