Productivity on the Go: Microsoft on Mobile

A year ago, you never would've seen Microsoft develop software for any platform other than PC or Windows Phone. Microsoft was ‘all in’ on Windows. Other than the Surface, their mobile offerings have gone largely unnoticed by customers, who prefer the Android or Apple ecosystems for mobile.

Microsoft hasn't given up on Windows as a mobile platform and Windows 10 will see their vision come to fruition. In the meantime, they're spending at least some development efforts on going where the people already are: iOS and Android.

13 new Microsoft apps just for iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Steve Ballmer once famously quipped that the iPhone was ‘just a toy.’ You could get no ‘real work’ done on a mobile unless you were a very small organization who had all of their apps in the cloud, had zero complexity in your workflow, or were willing to accept a substandard experience.

This is rapidly changing. In just the past 6 months, Microsoft has released or updated these apps just for iOS:

  • Excel
  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • OneDrive and OneDrive for Business
  • OneNote
  • Sway
  • Lync
  • Office 365 Message Encryption Viewer
  • Intune Company Portal
  • Power BI
  • My Microsoft Apps (a single sign on portal)

Just a few days ago, Microsoft announced AT&T Mobile Office Suite, a cloud-based bundle of apps (including some of the above) and services available on Windows, iOS and Android devices aimed at making it easier for employees to get work done from their phone.

Outlook for iOS and Android

One of the newest releases from Microsoft is the Outlook app for Android and iOS devices. This app is similar to the existing OWA app and will eventually completely replace it.

The new app is built specifically for mobile devices making for a much better user experience. With the new app comes new and updated features. Here are some of our favorites:

Customize swipe gestures

In the new Outlook app, you can customize swipe gestures in your inbox, allowing you to quickly and easily take advantage of the actions you use most. Some options include:

  • delete messages
  • flag the message for follow up
  • mark a message as read or unread
  • mark an email as archived
  • respond to an email with a meeting invite

Schedule Emails

Another feature is the ability to ‘schedule’ an email. This serves a similar purpose as flagging an email for follow up, but works a little differently. When you schedule an email, it's temporarily removed from your inbox and reappears at the time that you designate. It stays in a separate "Scheduled" folder if you need to access in the meantime.

We've found this useful for a few reasons:

  • Getting the email at the time you've scheduled is a reminded to take action on it at a more convenient time for your schedule. Yes, you can set reminders on emails you flag for follow up from your desktop, but scheduling is the much easier option on mobile.
  • It prevents distraction. By scheduling the message, it's removed from your inbox, so you can focus on your current task. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • It's really, really easy to do. Scheduling an email is one of the default swipe gestures in your inbox. All you have to do is swipe right on the message and pick a time (in a few hours, this evening, tomorrow morning or a specific time of your choosing).

Schedule Meetings

We're also loving the vast improvements made to scheduling meetings. Unlike the email applications native to most phones, the Outlook app allows you to send your calendar availability to a recipient. Through the Outlook app you have the ability to view the meeting invite, reschedule, or check the attendance status of a meeting.

Remote Wipe

One of the best features of the new Outlook app for the IT minded crowd is the ability to remotely wipe it. The difference from other apps is that it’s a selective remote wipe. It only deletes the Outlook app’s information leaving the rest of the user’s device intact.

If you haven't made the jump to the new Outlook app, we recommend it. Although the OWA app doesn't have an exact EOL date, the Outlook app will be replacing it in the next few years. Microsoft doesn't plan to schedule anymore updates to the OWA app but will be releasing updates to the Outlook app every few weeks.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can use these apps in your business – please reach out. Remember – if you are an Office 365 Customer – you most likely have SharePoint available for free!

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