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Microsoft today announced a bunch of updates to its Outlook app. Among other features, Outlook has gained the ability to add your personal Outlook.com or Google calendar to your Outlook work account, calendar management within your inbox, and Meeting Insights that surface relevant emails and files right to the calendar event.
More people working from home has resulted in more meetings, more prep, more follow-ups, and an increased blurring of the lines between personal and work time. Microsoft says these latest Outlook features are aimed to “help you get back more control of your day, spend less time preparing for meetings, protect your personal time, and organize your calendar to stay balanced.” You might get a feeling of déjà vu as we go through all the features as some were previously announced or even released in some form before the pandemic.
Calendars and tasks
Microsoft first teased connecting personal calendars to your or work or school calendar in March as part of a slew of Microsoft 365 AI and cloud-powered announcements. Now, the functionality is rolling out to all Microsoft 365 users with an Outlook work account.
When you add a personal calendar to Outlook on the web, the times for those events will be shown as busy (with no details or information) when someone wants to schedule a meeting with you using the Scheduling Assistant in Outlook. You can also see your personal calendar side by side to your work one or in one view.
Microsoft also mentioned today that you can triage your calendar directly from your Outlook inbox with a mini-calendar in message list and add tasks to calendar from My Day, but neither of these features are new. Speaking of tasks, you can now create a task from an email message in Outlook for iOS — this feature was previously only available in the Outlook Web App.
One-tap join for Zoom and Webex
Outlook for Android has gained a one-tap join option for video calling tools such as Zoom or Webex. This is Microsoft’s way of acknowledging that not everyone uses Microsoft Teams. “Outlook and Teams already work great together but we understand some people receive meeting invitations for meetings using other online meeting services,” the company said.
You may have first noticed this feature show up in Outlook for Android exactly a month ago. But Microsoft says it is now generally available for Android as of today. It is “coming soon” to iOS.
Prepping for meetings
Ever show up to a meeting right on time (or late) but woefully unprepared? Outlook for Android can now surface the files and emails you need for a meeting right into the event details on your calendar. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the feature was already available on iOS and the Outlook Web App.
Speaking of the Outlook Web App, you can now see messages, meeting details, attendee’s responses, and add an online meeting right from your inbox. You can switch between messages and meeting details, see the attendee list and who is attending the meeting, and even add an online meeting to it if the organizer forgot.
More email features
The Outlook Web App now lets you schedul when your emails are delivered. If you find yourself triaging, responding, and sending email messages at odd hours, you can make sure that you’re not sending the wrong idea to your recipients. Compose your email at the time that is convenient for you and have it delivered at a better time — like at 9am or when they are back from vacation.
Play My Emails, where Cortana provides an intelligent read-out of your emails on iOS is now rolling out to consumer and commercial users for Android. It’s also worth noting that as of March, the feature uses Microsoft Search, so you can use natural language to speak or type.