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Microsoft reveals new-look Outlook to compete with Gmail redesign

Bill reminders and a ‘quick reply’ box are among a host of new features unveiled by Microsoft as part of an overhaul of its Outlook app.

The company also announced new Outlook mobile apps that allow you to compose an email draft on your smartphone before finishing it on your computer.

The announcement comes less than a week after Google released a revamp of competing service Gmail in an attempt to lure in more businesses. 

Some of the updates are available now, while others will roll out over May and June, Microsoft said.

 

Bill payment reminders (pictured) and a ‘quick reply’ box are among a host of new features unveiled by Microsoft as part of an overhaul of its email and calendar software Outlook

Bill payment reminders

As part of an improved Outlook calendar, Microsoft has introduced bill pay reminders to the software’s web service Outlook.com.

The update means the system will scan your emails for bills and automatically add due dates to your calendar.

Outlook.com will also send an email reminder two days before the bill is due.

The service already runs a similar feature for travel reservations and package deliveries, as does competitor Gmail.

Outlook for Windows is also getting calendar updates to help business users.

Meeting support

The software now offers suggestions for meeting locations in calendar entries and uses Bing to automatically add information about the venue.

This location support is also coming to Outlook iOS, as well as the option to book a meeting room from your mobile device.

Microsoft is also upgrading the Outlook calendar’s RSVP and meeting attendee tracking.

Microsoft is also upgrading the Outlook calendar's RSVP and meeting attendee tracking (pictured). You'll soon be able to see the responses of attendees to all of your meetings - even if you didn't organise them - allowing all of those invited to track who has RSVP'd

Microsoft is also upgrading the Outlook calendar’s RSVP and meeting attendee tracking (pictured). You’ll soon be able to see the responses of attendees to all of your meetings – even if you didn’t organise them – allowing all of those invited to track who has RSVP’d

You’ll soon be able to see the responses of attendees to all of your meetings – even if you didn’t organise them – allowing all of those invited to track who has RSVP’d.

Microsoft said: ‘With this insight, invited attendees can better manage their time and decide if they should attend based on the plans of others.

‘For example, knowing who’s going can save you some time if you decide the meeting can be addressed by other teammates who are planning to attend.’

WHAT NEW FEATURES HAVE MICROSOFT ADDED TO OUTLOOK?

A host of new features have been unveiled by Microsoft as part of an overhaul of its email and calendar software Outlook.

Some of the updates are available now, while others will roll out over May and June 2018, the company said.

Upgrades to the platform include:

– Outlook.com reads your emails and adds bill due dates to your calendar

– Outlook automatically suggests locations for your meetings

– The software uses Bing to add information about meeting venues

– All meeting attendees can now track who has RSVP’d

– Improved time zone support that lets you add a calendar entry that starts in one time zone but ends in another

– ‘Quick reply’ box added to Android that lets you reply to a message  

– Better support for emails that you are ‘blind copied’ into

– Outlook for iOS will supports syncing draft emails between mobile and PC devices

Microsoft is also rolling out better time zone support for Outlook’s calendar on Windows and Mac.

You can now add a calendar entry that starts in one time zone but ends in another, which is helpful if you’re taking flights. 

Outlook for Mac now supports viewing four time zones, while the software’s Windows version supports three.

Microsoft is also rolling out better time zone support for Outlook's calendar on Windows and Mac. You can now add a calendar entry that starts in one time zone but ends in another, which is helpful if you're taking flights (pictured)

Microsoft is also rolling out better time zone support for Outlook’s calendar on Windows and Mac. You can now add a calendar entry that starts in one time zone but ends in another, which is helpful if you’re taking flights (pictured)

Outlook Mail

Microsoft has revealed a number of changes to its Outlook Mail service as part of the new update.

The company is adding better support for emails that you are ‘blind copied’ into.

When you reply to an email for which you were copied into the ‘BCC’ field, the software now warns you to help you dodge an embarrassing faux pas. 

iOS and Android 

Outlook for the software’s iOS and Android iterations have also been injected with a host of new features.

Outlook for iOS will soon support syncing draft emails, allowing you to compose an email draft on your smartphone before finishing it on your laptop.

Draft syncing is already available on Outlook for Mac, Windows and Android and will be rolled out to iOS users later this month, according to Microsoft.

Users of Outlook’s Android app will finally have access to Office Lens as part of the new update. Lens lets you take photos of information on a whiteboard or piece of paper and then automatically crops them to appear as if they were professionally scanned

The company said: ‘Now you can continue drafting emails in Outlook for iOS that were initially started on other devices.

‘Draft Sync for iOS makes it easy to pick up where you left off simply by navigating to the conversation in your inbox.’

Users of Outlook’s Android app will finally have access to Office Lens as part of the new update.

Lens lets you take photos of information on a whiteboard or piece of paper and then automatically crops them to appear as if they were professionally scanned.

If you are planning a meeting that requires a tight control of the attendee list, Outlook gives you the option to allow or prevent the forwarding of your calendar invitation (pictured)

If you are planning a meeting that requires a tight control of the attendee list, Outlook gives you the option to allow or prevent the forwarding of your calendar invitation (pictured)

The feature will come with all versions of Outlook for Android but Microsoft has not announced Lens for iOS users yet.

Outlook Android is also getting a ‘quick reply’ box that is already available on iOS.

The box at the bottom of the screen that allows you to quickly respond to messages while keeping their content in view.

Next month Outlook for iOS and Android is getting support for favourite contacts.

The feature allows you to tag people as your top contacts – a label that persists across Outlook’s web and mobile systems.

Outlook for Android is also getting support to block external content in emails, and the iOS version will include Office 365 Groups support in June.

WHAT FEATURES DOES THE NEW GMAIL INCLUDE?

Snooze – Gmail has added a hover menu that has the option to snooze messages until a specific time

Nudging – The nudging feature relies on AI flagging messages that are from a certain sender and contain specific content. 

The company estimates that the ‘nudges’ feature will lead 8 per cent of business users each week to remember to follow-up on something important.

High priority notifications – Gmail will use its in-built AI to flag high-priority notifications. It says this will ‘help you stay focused without interruption’

Unsubscribe -Gmail will start suggesting when to unsubscribe from newsletters or offers you no longer care about

Attachment chips – You can view and download attachments without opening an email

Confidential mode – Users who enable a ‘confidential’ option when sending an email can time-limit its access to recipients. 

The new setting does not override corporate email retention policies or present new obstacles to law enforcement.

Recipients can also be blocked from being able to forward, download or print an email.  

Improved security – Google’s machine-learning algorithms will run safety checks on every message received and will alert users in bold when it spots something that appears to be a threat.  

Two-factor authentication is also being added so users can request the recipient authenticates themselves with a passcode received by text message before opening the confidential mail. 

Smart replies – These will let users rapidly answer with a automatic response.

New look – Cosmetic changes bring Gmail’s website in line with Office by placing Google’s calendar, tasks and note-taking services within the same page as emails. 

Generally, the design aims to be less cluttered with side panel that provide access to Google’s other apps such as Calendar.

How to get it – Users will be invited to opt in to the new changes from today, but most can also opt-in by going to ‘Settings’ and selecting ‘Try the new Gmail’.

In order to go back to the original Gmail, users can go to the same place and select ‘Go back to classic Gmail’.  

 



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