Microsoft has revealed a redesign coming to its Outlook apps for Mac and Windows platforms, which is described as aiming for a "simplified" user interface that falls in line with the Outlook app for iOS. The Verge detailed the new and less complex version of Outlook on desktop, which was first spotted by MSPowerUser.
The Mac and Windows apps will feature a single-line ribbon that will be customizable so users can control which buttons are available, tailoring the email client to more easily accomplish their most common tasks. Clutter will be reduced with a smaller set of default commands, and the left navigation panel will include quicker access to folders across multiple accounts, visually similar to the switcher in Outlook on iOS.
Microsoft is said to have admitted that "MacBooks are popular amongst key influencers and decision makers," so the company decided to overhaul its email client "to win these users by delivering the best Outlook has to offer." Besides the design changes, Outlook for Mac will gain improvements to search and its calendar functions.
Search will become faster and "more reliable," as well as be easier to access in the app's top right corner. For the calendar, users will see an overall improved interface that makes managing appointments less of a hassle.
Microsoft hasn't yet detailed when the new Outlook will launch for Mac and Windows, but the company is said to be testing internal versions of the software for both platforms. Before the major update, a few minor additions will launch on Mac, including the ability to slide-to-delete messages via Apple's Magic Trackpad and a way to insert tables into emails.
It's expected that the redesigned app will debut in updates first made available for Office 365 subscribers, and then launch in Office 2019.
Microsoft today announced some major changes to its Outlook app for the iPhone and the iPad, introducing a redesigned conversation experience, improved navigation, and smarter search features that are coming in the near future.
The enhanced conversation design displays more of a conversation on a single screen, and there's clearer separation between each individual message. When opening a conversation to read more, Outlook will bring you to the first unread message, and there's a new quick reply feature that makes it easier to send an email without leaving the main conversation view.
As for the navigation improvements, Microsoft has made it easier to switch between accounts and browse through their folders. The account and folder menu has been tweaked so you can swap accounts with a tap, and the Help and Settings buttons have been relocated to the sidebar to make them easier to access.
In the near future, Microsoft plans to introduce an intelligent search feature (powered by Microsoft Graph) that will make it easier to find specific conversations. A search box will be added to the app's tab bar, so it'll be accessible from anywhere in the app, and People and Files will both be integrated into the search experience.
Microsoft plans to provide proactive suggestions for content, and when searching for a name, your most frequent contacts will pop up first.
The redesigned Outlook app is available today for all iOS users with Outlook.com and Gmail accounts. Support for Office 365 accounts will roll out "in the coming days." As for the search feature, Microsoft says it is "coming soon."
Microsoft today announced that it's implementing several new features in Outlook for Mac, all of which have been highly requested by its Office 365 subscribers. Timed emails, delivery notifications, email templates, and more are being added to the Mac software.
With a new Send Later feature, Outlook for Mac users can draft an email and then schedule it to send at another time using the new drop-down Send Later button located next to the send button. The email is saved to Drafts and then sent automatically at the specified time.
Alongside Send Later, there are now options to be notified when an email has been delivered and read by a recipient. Delivery receipts confirm that an email has been sent to the recipient's inbox, while a read receipt confirms that a message has been opened. Outlook for Mac users can also choose to decline to send read receipts.
To make it quicker to send the same type of emails, messages can now be saved as templates, and emails can also be dragged and dropped to the calendar to make automatic calendar appointments. Microsoft is also improving the account setup experience through automatic detection of email account type (Exchange, IMAP, or POP) and automatic email account importing when you've previously signed into another Office app.
The new account setup experience is available for all Mac users who are running Outlook version 15.34, while the delivery and read receipts, email templates, and calendar changes are available for all Office 365 subscribers running Outlook version 15.35. Office 365 users who are also Office Insider Fast users on version 15.36 have access to Send Later, a feature that will be available to all Office 365 subscribers starting in July.
Microsoft has begun inviting Mac users to try its new Google Calendar and Contacts support in Outlook 2016 by downloading and installing the application from its preview site.
Up until now, many of Outlook's more advanced email features have only been available to users with an Outlook.com, Office 365 or Exchange email address. This week's global rollout means anyone with a Gmail account can take advantage of several of Outlook's advanced features, including Focused Inbox and richer experiences for travel reservations and package deliveries.
Previously only available to Microsoft's Office Insider Fast Community, the new updates support all the core actions and enable anyone to add, delete, and edit events in a Google Calendar through Outlook for Mac. All changes update between the desktop software and Gmail or Outlook for iOS, ensuring everything is synced across devices.
Anyone who wants to try Outlook for Mac with their Google Account and test drive the new updates should visit the Microsoft preview website and click the Download button. This will install the latest preview version of Outlook 2016 for Mac, which can be used until June 30, 2017.
Outlook users signed up to Office 365 who want to test the features need to join the Insider Fast community, by opening Outlook, clicking Help > Check for Updates, and following these directions.
Amazon has silently updated its Alexa assistant to include Outlook.com calendar support, reports The Verge.
Amazon's Echo family of connected smart speakers have always supported Google calendars, but now Outlook users can ask Alexa to add or review upcoming events in their schedule using voice commands like "What's on my calendar?" or "Add an event to my calendar."
Outlook.com calendars can be added via the iOS Alexa app under Settings -> Calendar, which will activate the support on any connected Alexa-powered devices. Alexa still doesn't officially offer support for Apple Calendar, but a basic skill has recently been developed and made available on Github that allows the assistant to read upcoming events from the native Apple app.
In related news, Amazon has added hands-free Alexa support to its Tap portable speakers via an over-the-air software update. Originally, Amazon Tap users wishing to activate Alexa had to press a physical button on the Bluetooth speakers, but the latest update means Alexa can now be invoked via voice alone.
Amazon says that even with the hands-free function, Tap speakers should retain about eight hours of battery life, while the "listening" mode of the devices can be put to sleep with a press of the power button. Tap speakers now also support Amazon's "echo spatial perception", which enables the closest Alexa device to respond to commands when two or more are in proximity.