Microsoft is continuing to improve its Outlook email app to help it compete with an increasing number of competitors, such as Thunderbird on desktop PCs, or built-in email apps in Android and iOS.
It's just announced a number of new features for Outlook, and these improvements will be coming to Outlook on Windows, Mac, web and mobile, reflecting the fact that people now use a variety of methods to access their emails.
The new features that Microsoft announced are ready right now for Windows, web and Mac users, and coming soon for Android and iOS devices.
So, what new features can you expect to find in Outlook? If you use Outlook.com, you'll now see reminders to pay upcoming bills. These will appear as a summary card at the top of your email inbox, and Outlook will identify emails with bill due dates and add them to your calendar as well.
You’ll also get an email reminder two days before the due date. While you may not like being constantly reminded about upcoming bills, it should at least make sure that you don’t accidently miss out on a payment.
Outlook for Windows will now suggest possible locations and meeting rooms when you create an event or meeting. These will be based on your recently-used conference rooms, as well as your location, with the app pulling suitable venues from the Bing search engine. If you have Outlook on your iOS device, it will then use your current location to determine how long it will take to get to the meeting or event, and give you a notification when it's time to set off.
Outlook also helps you track who's responded to your meeting invites, making it easier to ensure that the meeting is held at a time and place that's convenient for all. You can prevent attendees from forwarding on the invite to other people as well, which is handy if you’re holding a meeting with limited spaces available. These features are available in Outlook on Windows and on the web.
Windows, Mac and web users will find managing meetings with people in multiple different time zones easier as well, with the ability to see departure dates and local time zones quickly and easily.
The Outlook Mail app on iOS is getting new features too, such as Show Organization, which makes it easier to find contacts from your company’s directory.
The iOS and Android apps are also getting proxy support, which will be useful for people working in companies that use proxies to block access to the internet.
The Windows app is getting a new warning when you reply to a message that you’ve been blind copied (BCC) into. This lets you know if you’re replying to everyone in the chain, just in case you only wanted to reply to the original sender.
There are also some features pegged for a future release. These include the ability to sync draft folders, so you can begin writing an email on one device and finish it on another; Quick Reply, which turns replying to emails into a modern chat-like experience similar to an instant messaging app; and the ability to block external content.
These new features, and a lot more, will be coming in May and June this year. It’s good to see Microsoft continue to improve its Outlook email software, while also taking a platform-agnostic approach so no one misses out, no matter what device they use for checking their emails.
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