Wednesday , October 21 2020

October's release of Microsoft Outlook for Mac, adds new tools and features for Mac users in Outlook-based enterprises.

Microsoft’s forthcoming Outlook for Mac should boost WFH

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Appleholic, (noun), æp·əl-hɑl·ɪk: An imaginative person who thinks about what Apple is doing, why and where it is going. Delivering popular Apple-related news, advice and entertainment since 1999.

Microsoft has been watching what remote workers need and seems to have introduced some of these features in the forthcoming October release of Microsoft Outlook for Mac, which adds new tools, customizations and more for Mac users working in Outlook-based enterprises.

Microsoft moved fast to support Apple’s new operating systems this year, including the recent addition of support for use of Outlook (or Edge) as default email client/browser on iOS and iPadOS 14.

Its apps (including OneDrive) now offer iOS 14 Home screen widgets; There are new complications for Apple Watch; Apple Pencil support on iPads.

Turning to the Mac, and Microsoft promises the forthcoming October release will feel even more like a native Mac application. In the case of Big Sur, that means elements such as rounder corners and pane-based views.

“We wanted you to feel at home while using Outlook for Mac without sacrificing what makes Outlook, well, Outlook,” said Microsoft marketing program manager Jessica Wilczek in a blog post.

Beyond design, Microsoft seems focused on making Outlook/Mac a more productive space for enterprise workers.

Trying to stay organized, particularly in lockdown, is a challenge for every knowledge worker. The company seems to want to make it possible for users to do much more of this work from inside Outlook.

So, for example, Outlook’s “People” feature will gather key contacts into one space within the application.  The company says the feature is designed to be a central place to “manage and explore those you collaborate with often”.

You’ll be able to use this space as a hub for collaboration, I guess. There’s also a new MyDay pane within the main mail screen and a two-week calendar that sits beside the inbox.

Microsoft has made many of Outlook’s features customizable, at least in the message list, calendar, and main mail canvas.

These are Mac-like features, including drag-&-drop arrangement of accounts and folders, and the capacity to mark some contacts as Favorites.

You can also customize the toolbar to help ensure the controls you need are easy to find. This also extends to third-party apps. Outlook lets you install toolbar commands to access features such as Microsoft Forms, DocuSign, Salesforce, and Zoom.

Calendars are now grouped by calendars you own, calendars that are shared with you, and Microsoft 365 Group Calendars. You can set up events from within the calendar grid, use a Teams toggle to invite people, and Outlook will attempt to suggest a useful time. If you have a scheduled meeting, you can click it for more information and any relevant emails or files.

Of course, every silver lining is shrouded by grey cloud, and in this case that flaw is that Outlook for Mac doesn’t yet support iCloud or IMAP accounts.

To be fair, the company says such support is “coming soon”, and the application does bring in mail from Office 365, Outlook and Google accounts. This lack of iCloud support will be a friction point for knowledge workers with a Mac, who will inevitably also have an iCloud address.

All told, a solid release that seems likely to be of great use to Mac users working at enterprises that have coalesced around use of Outlook across all supported platforms.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Jonny is a freelance writer who has been writing (mainly about Apple and technology) since 1999.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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