A few days ago, Microsoft released the official Outlook app for Android phones and tablets. I tested the app and found some interesting new features.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)
Contents of this article

When Microsoft bought Acompli last December, I reviewed the app and was wondering how such a relatively simple app could be worth $200 million. Thus, I was quite curious to see if Microsoft was able to transform the Acompli app into a tool that really deserves to be called “Outlook.”

Outlook for Android

Outlook for Android

Microsoft indeed improved a few things. One thing is that connecting to Office 365 now works properly. Last time, I had to mess with the app for quite a while before I could access my Exchange Online mailbox. This time, I just had to provide my email address and my password, and Outlook started downloading my emails.

Interestingly, Microsoft doesn’t distinguish between Exchange and Office 365. Outlook for Android also allows you to add Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, iCloud, IMAP, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box accounts. The cloud drives are for attaching files to emails.

Add and account in Outlook for Android

Adding an account in Outlook for Android

Email ^

The inbox looks pretty much the same as with the Acompli app. Microsoft didn’t dump the Focused folder that I bashed in my last review. However, I have to admit that, this time, the app was better in distinguishing between important and unimportant emails. There were a few “false positives,” though, and I still found myself switching back and forth between the Focused and Other folders. I doubt that this feature can save you time. I am reading that Outlook 2016 will have a comparable feature. Let's see if this can be done better.

Microsoft Outlook for Android inbox on a tablet

Microsoft Outlook for Android inbox on a tablet

Microsoft also managed to add a new bug. On my Note 3 with Android 4.4, text fields on various screens were cut off.

Cut off text fields

Cut-off text fields

As you can see in the screenshot above, composing emails in Outlook for Android is rather spartan. There is no way to format your email.

For some reason, Microsoft hid one of the highlights of the app—that is, the ability to attach files from cloud drives. If you tab to the attach symbol, Outlook presents the three options Recent Files, Photo Library, and Take a Picture. However, if you added a cloud drive account to Outlook, you can then access these files if you tab to Recent Files. As with the previous version, the app doesn’t really attach the file; instead, it adds a “secret” link that points to the file in the cloud.

The rendering engine has definitely been improved. You can now zoom most emails, and the app is able to adjust line breaks, which allows you to easily read emails with small fonts. (I always wonder why most web browsers for Android can’t do this. The only one I know of is Opera. In my opinion, this is a must-have feature for any app that displays text on a mobile device.)

Flagging still doesn’t work accurately; that is, you can’t set a due date as in Nine. For me, this is a knock-down flaw. Anyone who works intensely with email and doesn’t use the My Tasks folders in Outlook for Windows, which sorts emails according to their due dates, wastes a lot of time. As expected, Outlook for Android doesn’t have a My Tasks folder. Nine does.

The mail notification settings of Outlook for Android are still very primitive. You can only choose between All, Focused Only, and None.

Contacts ^

The Contacts app has some interesting features. I am unsure if I missed this last time or if Microsoft added these features. Each address book entry has three tabs: Mail, Meetings, and Files.

The Mail tab lists all emails that you exchanged with this person. It seems the app doesn’t just use the “from” field for this purpose. In my test, it also added emails to the list that contained the name in the message body. What I really like is that it also adds your own last sent email to the list. Outlook for Windows doesn’t do that, and I often miss this feature.

The Meetings tab is one of the features that shows that Outlook doesn’t want to be just another email app but intends to become a real Exchange client. I also like the Files tab. It lists attachments that you received from the person. How I’ve longed for this feature in Outlook for Windows.

It’s also good that the app only displays fields with entries. Most contact apps I know also present empty fields, which means that you often have to scroll down before you reach the field you are looking for. Not so good is that Outlook doesn’t show some fields that contain content, such as the web and IM address. In my test, the app displayed the contents of the Notes field several times. Another bug.

A contact entry

A contact entry

Unfortunately, Outlook for Android doesn’t allow you to edit contacts.

Calendar ^

The calendar app is relatively simple and is probably no match for the one that came with your phone or tablet (S Planner, for instance). Calendar entries are displayed in an endless list, and you can select particular dates in a monthly calendar. That’s all.

The calendar screen

The calendar screen

Outlook for Android supports meetings, and you can accept and decline meeting requests. I am unsure, though, if this strategy would work with the event displayed in the following screenshot. And, trust me, I am not the organizer of this event. Outlook must have misunderstood something here. However, the number of displayed attendees seems to be realistic.

Calendar event

Calendar event

Conclusion ^

The app tested in this review might now be the “official” Outlook for Android. However, it still lacks a plethora of features to deserve the name “Outlook.” I think I neglected to mention that it doesn’t support tasks and notes. In my view, Nine is still the “best” Outlook for Android. Nevertheless, I am seeing some improvement compared to the Acompli app. After my last review, I uninstalled the app right away. I guess this time I will keep it. Some features, such as attaching a file from the cloud to an email or quickly listing the emails of a particular person, could prove to be useful occasionally.

10 Comments
  1. Padraig 7 years ago

    Michael ,

    I recall an issue when I first read about outlook for android ( which is quite nice) which wa a deal breaker for me. It seems that password credentials were store on accompli servers when polling O365 etc . Do you know has this been "corrected" in the latest iteration ?

  2. Padraig, the account settings still contain a link "Remove account from device and remote". I guess that means they are still storing the credentials online. I wonder why? This is indeed a knockdown argument.

  3. nnatic 7 years ago

    i agree with a few of your comments for sure.  How can the app not include notes or tasks (i specifically want tasks as none of the great task apps sync with exchange).  Also, the calendar portion should sync with your default calendar.  It is far too limited and has no insight into other calendars on the device.

  4. Actually, I now think that Microsoft is damaging the Outlook brand with this app. This is not really Outlook for Android.

  5. Bad 6 years ago

    Is this app capable of adding another mailbox to account?

  6. Lynda Collins 6 years ago

    I have had lots of problems getting e-mail alerts. But.......
    It would appear that for this new app you need to have "focused only" on to get notifications. This is the only way notifications alert works for me! Like the option to "make a rule" to send to
    focused.

  7. Linda 6 years ago

    I have used the Outlook app for awhile now and have issues with it. Number one, I don't want to be told what is important for me to look at. That's my job to decide what I feel is important and what is not. Second, I don't get a lot of mail on my Android and so have to use my laptop to get it.

  8. Anupam 5 years ago

    How much phone memory it consumes? is it on dropbox or cloud?

  9. David 5 years ago

    I've tested this app for quite a while but was forced to switch back to searching for another solution because I wanted to sync Outlook notes with my Android device. The only solution I've found so far that works without duplicating contacts and notes is Akruto. Although it's not perfect and can't transfer contacts and notes from Android phone to empty desktop Outlook, I'd say it solves the problem of syncing native calendar and notes app with Outlook while having two different apps for your Google and Outlook data is just annoying.

  10. Larry Chriswell 5 years ago

    The Android Outlook app for Android removes received email from my inbox after I forward it and receive a reply for that forwarded email. Search finds it still in my inbox. The replied email indicates with a 3 that a thread will be shown, and the original is shown in the thread.

    This is nuts! Not intuitive. I expect all emails received to be in my inbox, not hidden in some thread.

Leave a reply

Please enclose code in pre tags

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

© 4sysops 2006 - 2021

CONTACT US

Please ask IT administration questions in the forums. Any other messages are welcome.

Sending

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account