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Outlook hits iOS – can it compete with the Mail app?

At the end of last year, Microsoft bought Acompli, a popular email application for iPhone, for $200 million. Now, just a couple of months later – the software giant, responsible for the likes of Windows and Cortana has launched a much-improved Outlook for iOS application on the App Store. Based on the acquired Acompli, Microsoft has suddenly become the developer behind one of the best email apps for iOS.

The app's built-in calendar feature means availability can be attached to outgoing messages

The app’s built-in calendar feature means availability can be attached to outgoing messages

If you never used Acompli for iOS, the new Outlook app will be a surprising treat: it’s feature-rich and serves as a great alternative to the built-in Mail application. But even if you were a fan of the Acompli iPhone app, Microsoft’s all-new Outlook for iOS should nevertheless bring a smile to your face – even if it does feel a little familiar.

This is because Outlook for iOS is a near-identical replica of Acompli. But given that Acompli was a much-loved email app back when it was available on the App Store, this is no bad thing. For a start, the new Outlook application offers iPhone owners one single place for both their email accounts and calendars. A huge range of services are supported, including Google Mail, Yahoo!, and iCloud, and users can switch between their email and calendar using tab buttons which run along the bottom of the application.

It's also possible to apply filters to organize messages displayed in your inbox.

It’s also possible to apply filters to organize messages displayed in your inbox

By default, the email interface includes two inboxes: a “Focus Inbox” and an “Other” inbox. You see, the revamped Outlook usefully scans your incoming email and accurately prioritizes messages you care about. You can then opt to receive push notifications for “Focus”-categorised email, meaning you’re connected with important contacts but, significantly, that your iPhone won’t buzz with incoming email that’s not urgent.

You can move email between these two inboxes, or create rules for incoming mail that isn’t sorted correctly. It’s also possible to apply a filter for viewing messages in either inbox, to swipe messages to archive or schedule email, and to search your various inboxes. Apart from smart email management, Outlook also lets iPhone owners check on their calendar using a dedicated interface, and this integration allows users to easily insert their availability for a given time into an outgoing message (you can insert your current location, too).

Microsoft's Outlook app supports a useful landscape mode on Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, just like the built-in Mail app.

Microsoft’s Outlook app supports a useful landscape mode on Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, just like the built-in Mail app

Perhaps most impressive, however, is Outlook’s dedicated file viewer pane. Here, users can access and preview attached files from their configured accounts in one place; files appear in a list and can be shared (using the “Open In” menu) or saved to a cloud-based service. Users can also link a Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive account to Outlook in order to easily attach files from one of the services to outgoing messages.

The bottom line, then, is that Outlook is just as impressive as Acompli was, and it’s pleasing to see that the app has lived on following the Microsoft acquisition. We’re excited to learn what Microsoft has in store for Outlook – new features are reportedly in the pipeline. But until then, iPhone owners can be assured that Microsoft’s latest release offers a smart, feature-packed email management solution for Apple’s iOS.

Price: Free
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 22.5 MB
Developer: Microsoft
Platform: iOS Universal

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Review: Outlook: Microsoft has launched one of the best email apps for iPhone
Microsoft's Outlook for iOS is a smart, feature-rich application that iPhone owners will love. It's impossible not to give it a perfect score: we love it.
For
  • Based on a highly tuned app
  • Great notification functionality
Against
  • It's essentially a straight copy, with little added
5.0Overall Score