Gmail's redesign started rolling out to new users last week, adding surprising integrations with productivity and business-oriented features. The functionality, which includes Calendar support, finally brings it closer to Microsoft Outlook.
However, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to announce a slew of new and upcoming features that highlight just how far behind Google is. Improvements across Calendar, mail, and mobile apps focus primarily on business users – the same audience as Gmail's new features.
Some of the biggest improvements are coming to Outlook Calendar, with automatic bill pay reminders, suggested event locations and meeting rooms, RSVP tracking and forwarding, and support for multiple time zones. Together, these should make it far easier to manage meetings across the world.
Naturally, Microsoft hasn't forgotten about the mail portion of Outlook. As announced previously, you can now add organization directory details to your contact information. This lets users see who you report to and other colleagues they work with to find common ground.
In addition, the team has finally added proxy support. It's becoming increasingly common for organizations to use SOCKS proxies to deny internet access to unauthorized mobile devices, so this is very helpful.
It joins another small but life-saving feature: Bcc warnings. It's all too easy to reply to an email you're blind copied on, revealing your presence to everyone in the chain. Now, Outlook for Windows will warn you when replying to such emails, letting you send a message only to the sender.
Outlook Mobile Features
There are also a number of features coming to iOS and Android. The ability to sync draft folders is already available in Windows, Mac, and Android, but will coming to iOS this month.
Android will also be getting a feature this month in the form of Office Lens support. For the unfamiliar, this lets you snap a picture of a whiteboard and photo and embed an automatically trimmed and enhanced version.
It joins the following features, which are equally notable:
- Quick reply— By keeping your message content in view, and a new reply box at the bottom of your screen, Outlook helps you keep the conversation going with a modern, chat-like experience. Coming to Outlook for Android May 2018 and later this summer to Outlook for Mac. Available in Outlook for iOS.
- Favorite people— You'll soon be able to tag your favorite people in Outlook, ensuring they're at the forefront of your experience. Coming to Outlook for iOS and Android June 2018.
- Office 365 Groups for OneNote and meeting events in Outlook— Coming to Outlook for iOS June 2018.
- Block external content— Tracking which emails are opened can be important to digital marketers. But if you don't want this to be tracked, Outlook now helps to protect you and your inbox and block this external content. Coming to Outlook for Android May 2018.
- Single Office 365 account in Outlook— Coming to Outlook for iOS and Android June 2018.
You can view full notes about all each feature on the Microsoft blog.