Dropbox made news last week by “sunsetting” Mailbox, the email app it bought just two years ago for around $100 million. Mailbox was popular, but had been languishing for a while without significant updates. Now that it’s going away, lots of iPhone and iPad users are scrambling to find a new mail app that isn’t, you know, Mail.app. And the best one on the market is made by Microsoft.
Last year, Microsoft bought an app called Accompli about a year ago (for $200 million; there’s money in fixing email) and relaunched it as Microsoft Outlook for iOS. They recently bought another indie calendar app called Sunrise and are integrating that into Outlook as well. And in so doing, they’ve created an iOS version of Outlook that shares little code (or baggage) with its Mac or Windows counterparts. And on iOS, that’s a good thing.
What makes Outlook so compelling on iOS is that it manages to combine email, file system attachments, calendar and contacts as deftly as the desktop versions but in a cleaner, faster interface. You can connect Outlook to Exchange, Office 365, Gmail, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropxbox, Box and lots of other accounts and the work together seamlessly. You can swipe mail items to archive, delete, flag or reschedule them on the go. You can dial your phone directly from your Outlook contacts list. You can respond to meeting invites and schedule appointments. You can open cloud-stored files directly in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
And you can do all of that fast. The speed is Outlook’s best feature, and biggest selling point. Well, it would be a selling point if Outlook weren’t free, but it is. And if you have an Apple Watch, Outlook works great there too.
Satya Nadella’s Microsoft is serious about making Microsoft products and services your best choice no matter what platform you prefer, and their iOS Office suite is a prime example. If you use iOS and you haven’t tried Outlook, you owe it to yourself to give it a spin.
Jeff Kirvin, PEI