Microsoft has just announced the launch of the official Outlook Web App (OWA) for the iPhone and the iPad. These are essentially the mobile version of what you would see in the Outlook Web App on a browser, but with added functionality such as the ability to schedule meetings, view shared calendars, contact sync and more. And they are available only for users who have an Office 365 subscription with Exchange Online capabilities. If you are not an Office 365 subscriber, you can visit www.office.com to learn more and sign up.
Features of the Outlook Web Apps
A quick look at some of the features of the Outlook Web apps:
- Automatic logins
- Easy options to organize email: Conversation View, Mark as Junk, Flag, and Categories
- Push notifications
- Convenient Search options
- Meeting reminders even if app is closed
- Easy meetings scheduling with the help of Scheduling Assistant
- Delegating access to calendars
- Voice support
- Remote wipe to delete corporate data when leaving an organization
- Separate passcodes for additional security
Using the Outlook Web Apps
Once you have downloaded and installed the OWA for iPhone and OWA for iPad from the Apple App Store, you can click the OWA icon on the home screen of your device.
The next step is to sign in to the app using your Office 365 credentials. You can tap the icon in the bottom left corner of the app to switch between Mail, Calendar, People and Options.
Once inside a particular module, you will see different tiles for the tasks you want to accomplish. The app also offers a voice input that you can use to execute commands such as opening a calendar or a new email. As with all apps on iOS devices, notification of new activity will show up as a tiny red badge above the icon. That means you can see the number of unread email messages without opening the application.
The Outlook Web App Inbox on the iPad opens in a two column layout with the folder pane in hidden view. The left column lists the email messages while the right column displays the Reading pane.
The Outlook Web App Inbox on the iPhone only lists the email messages but there are controls that will let you switch to the folder pane or the Reading pane. The Spectacles icon on the screen lets you read your email in full screen mode.
You will need to swipe each list view item to delete, flag, move and mark as read/unread. You can also swipe multiple list view items to perform those actions simultaneously.
Another cool feature is that you can compose IRM protected email as well as the much used Out of Office messages from the application.
The magnifying glass icon lets you type a keyword and search for a desired email or contact.
And the nicest thing about the apps is that you can work on them in offline mode too. You can read, flag messages, schedule meetings, edit your contacts, or even reply to contacts without an internet connection.
The calendar in the Outlook Web App for iPad shows the day, week, work week, month, and agenda views whereas the app for the iPhone only displays the day, month and agenda views. You can also create and assign categories for various items.
The app also offers the services of the Scheduling Assistant, which will let you check schedules of meeting attendees, find rooms, and add attendees according to their availability, to the meeting rooms.
You will also be able to delegate calendar access to assistants and other team members, which should be particularly important in an office environment.
The People pane shows you all your contacts in Outlook as well as syncs the contacts who are on the mobile device.
When you head over to the Options section, you have a number of controls to perform other related tasks, such as managing your auto-replies and out of office messages, set your time zones, and even configure your email signature.
At first glance, the Outlook Web apps for iOS devices certainly looks very impressive. There are plenty of good capabilities that should bring most of the advantages of the browser client on to the native app.
If you have an iPhone 4S or higher and an iPad 2 or higher running iOS 6 or higher and have an Office 365 subscription with the latest Exchange Online, download and take advantage of these useful apps and simplify your work.
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