Today Microsoft has announced some major updates to the Outlook on the web. Made possible by Microsoft Graph, the changes aim to make the web experience smarter and more productive.
The Outlook team says the changes will “help Office 365 customers better understand the people they are communicating with,” and “reduce the number of clicks to present the most relevant information.”
Contact Cards and People Pane
Chief among Microsoft's changes is an enhanced people pane and remodeled contact cards. Information about a person now displays when hovering, reducing the need for a click or a new page.
From there, you can see information like job title, recent emails, and who they report to. You can also take an extra step to send an email, message, phone call or book a calendar appointment.
By clicking three dots, users can also open the new Contact pane, which will offer more information. Intelligent information such as team, title, and office number will display. You also get access to their organization chart.
The chart shows the colleagues full reporting structure so that you can contact those above them, as well as people they commonly work with and their Office 365 groups. You can view information that you have previously shared with people, and can integrate this into calendar appointments and emails.
The Office team has also been working on the search for Mail, Calendar, and People. Search results are far more relevant –typing the first letter of someone's name will come up with the contact if you talk to them a lot. By analyzing communications, business frequency, and business relationship, Outlook goes beyond alphabetical listing.
Microsoft has also extended Outlook's “fuzzy name” capabilities. Outlook accounts for different spellings, suggesting “Jon” for “John” and “Katherine” for “Catherine.” This will help users find names they have only heard verbally.
New Contact Lists
Finally, the Contact list in the people module has been improved. It now has a “Featured People” section that contains smart lists. These lists update dynamically over time and have the following categories:
- “Frequently contacted—This list analyzes the strongest signals coming across all of Outlook to understand who you work with the most. It takes into account your communication, collaboration and business relationships.
- On your calendar—List of the people found in your upcoming calendar appointments that day, which is extremely helpful when preparing for meetings.
- For follow-up—List of the people who recently sent you email that might require your action.
- Favorites—The Favorites list is one you manage yourself. Similar to Skype favorites, you can add or remove people on your Favorites list for quick and easy access to the latest communication you've had with them—for people both inside and outside your organization.”
You can pick and choose between these categories, and pin the most useful one so it opens by default when in People view. You can also go back to the original Contacts list if you prefer.
The way contacts display is overhauled too. Information such as name, email address, job title and office number is available straight from “Your contacts.” Clicking on their name then takes you to the new Contact pane.
The Full details about this update are on the Office Blog.