Microsoft Outlook is now on iPhone and iPad: why could this be useful?

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Microsoft Outlook is now on iPhone and iPad: why could this be useful?

Microsoft today released Office for Android and Outlook for iOS - complementing the other Office apps for iOS that were released last year.

Why could this be useful? Although Apple includes Mail and Calendar on every iPhone and iPad there are times when they don’t deliver all of the functions we need. For example, attaching a file that's stored in Dropbox is not easy. And having to flick between different applications when checking our diary to respond to an email is a pain.

Outlook for iOS (we tested Outlook on an iPad) integrates email, calendaring and access to files on popular cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as access to Microsoft's OneDrive, Apple's iCloud and box.net.

If you've got a cluttered inbox, Outlook for iOS makes it easy to find unread messages using a "Quick Filter". This is a one-tap option that filters your inbox so you only see Unread messages. It also provides quick access to messages containing attachments.

If you have multiple email accounts, you see a single Inbox so that you won’t need to switch between different accounts. This is handy for contractors who have multiple email accounts with different clients and for seeing your work and personal email in one place.

Outlook for iOS' calendar is one element that needs some work in our view. While the Agenda, Day and Week views work well, there's no Monthly view - something we often use when planning upcoming work and travel. Also, we weren't able to see any of our shared or subscribed calendars.

For example, we have a shared calendar for family events that different family members can add items to, and a calendar subscription with TripIt - the app we use for managing all of our travel.

We did encounter one other issue. One or our appointments was sent to us as a meeting request by a service provider. For some reason, Outlook for iOS didn't handle the appointment correctly and placed it in our calendar at Greenwich Mean Time rather than local time. So, instead of being at 3:30PM on a Thursday, the appointment appeared in our calendar at 2:30AM on Friday. That appointment appeared at the right time in all our other calendar applications.

In our view, Outlook for iOS is a reasonable application but suffered from too many issues in our initial use for it to replace Apple's built in Mail and Calendar apps. While there are some great features, the lack of support for subscribed calendars and the problem we had with the meeting invitation landing in the wrong timezone means we'll be waiting before making a decision on moving away from Apple's stock applications.

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