Email applications on Android are a dime a dozen, so folks are always on the lookout for the best-looking and most feature-packed experience that doesn’t get in the way of actually reading and sending emails. Microsoft’s Outlook mail app has seen better days design-wise, but the update that began rolling out today changes that, as well as adding some usability tweaks to the overall experience. The version of Outlook to look out for is version 2.0.0, and the number itself should say ‘we’ve changed a bunch, have a look-see’, and you should. If you have an Outlook mail account, or just want to change up your on-the-go email experience, Outlook now seems like a strong contender.
If you just download rather than update the application, you’ll be greeted with a new sign-in screen. Previously, the list of cloud storage and email accounts were all on one page, but now cloud accounts to sign int are accessible through a swipe to the left. The same kinds of accounts are supported (Office 365, Outlook, Exchange, Yahoo mail, iCloud, Gmail, and IMAP) and the same three cloud storage accounts (OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box) are also still accessible through Outlook. The screen has also been cleaned up in general, with a clean white backdrop to feature the colorful iconography of each service’s logo.
Once you’ve signed in, you’ll notice the app’s slide-out navigation pane has gotten an update in iconography as well as linking to the updated Calendar, Files, and People sections. The calendar has got a visual refresh, with a cleaner overall look. The drop-down at the top also features interface to select a day much like Google’s own calendar app, which is nice to implemented elsewhere if you’re not a fan of Google’s own apps. From the calendar’s overflow menu at the top-right, you can access the Agenda or Day view, as well as jumping to Settings or choosing the Default Calendar to show.
The Files section is next, and it’s gotten a lot more usable compared to previous updates. Along with, again, being a lot better looking, features a list for each set up account showing the three most recent files accessed using that account (though not necessarily through the Outlook Android app), so the picture you just sent to a co-worker can now be easily downloaded (especially helpful if you sent the picture using a desktop or other device) to send out to a group of people instead. And that transitions us to the People section. The People section used to seem like pared down version of Android’s in-built contact application, now it does things that the stock application has yet to implement. Once you get to the People section, you’ll be given a now-Material-Design-compliant list of contacts, sorted by first name (with no option to sort by anything else in the overflow menu or the Settings menu, sadly). Once you select a person, you’ll be given a pastel colored contact card that includes an insanely useful amount of information. For each contact, you’ll be shown their contact picture, name, various contact (email and phone) and address details, as well as any links you have associated with their contact. That’s what the stock app shows you too, but Outlook also shows you the recent mail messages between you and this person (both sent and received), any events you have them invited to or have been invited to by them, as well as any files in your associated cloud account that you’ve authored with the person.
On top of all that, Outlook also complies with Material Design much more than before (with its square sender images in email and contacts). To top off the new look and feel of Outlook, Microsoft even redesigned the app icon to fall out of line with the other Microsoft services on Android, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, to be more Androidish and appealing.