Outlook on My iPhone

A year ago if you had suggested that I’d be using Microsoft Outlook on my iPhone instead of the Apple Mail app, I would have said, simply, “No Fucking Way.” And I would have been wrong.

It’s kind of like chocolate in my peanut butter.

When I try something new, I use it for two weeks to see if it sticks. A month ago, my partner Jason told me he was loving Outlook on the iPhone. I figured it wouldn’t last but I was wrong. So two weeks ago I moved my Apple Mail icon to the last page on the iPhone and moved the Outlook app down into the special reserved place for email.

Outlook on the iPhone is better than Apple Mail on the iPhone. It’s one of those perplexing things – I’ve tried many of the other iOS email clients and none of them were ever more than incrementally better. I go back and forth with the Google Gmail iOS client but it never sticks for some reason, probably the UX. I tried Google Inbox for a few days and my brain simply doesn’t process email the way it presents it. So I kept ending up back at the Apple Mail iOS app.

While the Apple Mail iOS app is fine, it doesn’t delight, especially when using Gmail. Mail is often slow to download. Push has gotten better in a recent release, but I still find myself waiting for emails to download. Search is lousy. Calendar integration is non-existent.

Outlook is better at all of these things. It’s not that it adds any dramatic new features, but it does the stuff I’ve expected Apple Mail to do for many years. And, when I actually think about what is going on, I’m using Microsoft Outlook on my Apple iPhone to read my Google Gmail.

What iOS email client do you use and why?

  • I too switched to Outlook. The integration with calendar and docs/attachments is great. But it got too buggy and was lacking some of the calendar features i ned and i dropped it a few weeks ago. Went back to Inbox from dropbox. Simple and lightening fast. And using google calendar app, which is so much better than other fancier calendar apps.

    • I’ll probably start shuffling around a little again and seeing how the current versions of things are. Mailbox (pre-Dropbox) wasn’t to my liking. I haven’t yet tried the Google Calendar app.

      • As I’m now working on so many different devices – phone, iPad, multiple laptops and soon watch – interoperability and consistency are key. So least common denominator features that are consistent are winning for me.

      • Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! And thank you again for providing these insights and the forum to discuss more.

    • @markjosephson:disqus have you noticed how many of Google’s products have undergone major UI changes over the last year? Calendar included. Lack of consistent functionality UI has been frustrating for me. (I’m on Samsung Android but play on Apple). Interestingly, UI changes to mobile products seem harder to adapt to than desktop; Less (mobile) real estate = steeper learning curve. Thoughts?

  • I did the exact same thing, Brad. I tried Outlook for iPhone for a couple of weeks just because I was really frustrated with the Apple Mail app and I never looked back. I really like the integrations, particularly Dropbox & Google Docs. I can also Search my mail (who would have thought that people want to search their other folders, huh Apple?). I don’t like that Outlook has a single app for email and calendar. I wish they were separate apps. These two things just occupy different parts of my brain and two clicks to get to see my daily calendar is just too much.

  • Jeremy Wacksman

    Agree, Brad. IMO, Search is the killer feature that got me to switch. Trying to quickly find an old email via server search on the default Apple app just never works.

    • Yup. That’s a good one. This works in the Gmail client also, but for some reason there are enough other things about the Gmail client I don’t like that it doesn’t stick with me.

      • Feels too much like a mobile web app and not native. Slow animations, aka always loading before a view shows.

  • clogish

    I’m still using mailbox, desperately hoping that they will release a significantly improved version (but I suspect they won’t).

  • Streak for my business email, Mailbox for others, and Tempo calendar.

    Switching to a CRM for business communications makes so much sense.

  • Haha – who would have thought you’d be using a Microsoft app (really smart acquisition of Accompli on that note to get hold of this app) to access your gmail..

  • I went all the way and got a Lumia 1520 which I love

    • Well – that’s not going to happen for me.

  • I use Outlook as well. In fact, I used Acompli before Microsoft gobbled them up. I love it, aside from the limited search results and the fact that they got rid of the *slide long left to delete* feature (although “archive” is comparable). Other than that, it’s the best mail app I’ve ever used and I feel like I’ve tried them all.

    • So while you’re composing one email you like to refer to a different email?

      • Yes. So many times I will be in the middle of composing an email and have to reference another email form some reason or another. Instead of saving as a draft and searching, I’ll open up Mail amd switch back and forth if needed.

  • Really glad you’re enjoying the experience! And look forward to hearing what you find as you start to dig into the app. Feedback always welcome! (OL PM)

    • Thanks James. Congrats on a strong product!

      One comment – it’s not obvious how to integrate Outlook into iOS Activities. Any clue?

      • Thanks Brad! You’ve picked up on a gap in the product we’re working to fill as I type. See this in an update very soon.

  • I’ve tried so many iOS mail apps (Gmail, Mailbox, Inbox, Dispatch, I’m probably forgetting others) and none of them stuck. Outlook has been the best and is really close to replacing the Apple Mail app.

    Microsoft also recently acquired my favorite calendar app: Sunrise. They seem to be building up a constellation of really good iOS productivity apps.

  • I was in full agreement for a while. But living in nyc it’s imperative to have a great offline experience since you’re below ground so often when commuting. Outlook’s push wasn’t cutting it when I’d see a 5 unread badge, only to open the app in the state I left it in previously without the new messages downloaded. I switched to Cloud Magic (odd name for a mail app) and have actually found it to be the best I’ve encountered so far. Only thing it lacks is real calendar integration compared to Outlook. Aside from that though it’s a fantastic solution.

  • I’m sold, thanks for the tip. Will give it a try now.

    Honestly never expected a Microsoft mail client to perform best on an iPhone with Gmail. But that iPhone Gmail config is probably the most typical use case.

    One issue I’ve needed to fall back on the google mail client is to ensure my mail forwarding works aok. If I send from my apple mail app it doesn’t forward (from appears as my gmail.com).

    I use a gmail account to forward everything to an exchange server and also receive that accounts mail from work. It allows me to keep the benefits of a gmail account (useful web client, no need to give access to the mail server to wipe my phone data). Thanks to @Michael Constantiner for that pro tip.

    • No dice, IT at my job said the app was too insecure and unsupported. Full stop

      • Hilarious the IT has a Microsoft app banned. Oops.

        • It was a jaw dropping moment of, but wait this is a microsoft app for this outlook exchange server you guys trust.

          I could always connect that “insecure” app to gmail pop3 and imap forwarder but gave up.

  • conorop

    I’ve had Outlook downloaded on my phone because I heard such great rec’s, but I haven’t taken the time to set it up yet.

    I’m still working with Google Inbox – finally used to it after 4 weeks. For a while, Gmail iOS was my go to. I tried Mailbox, but Gmail filters and Mailbox don’t play well together, so that was out after two days.

    Big question: how can OS Outlook be SOOOOO bad and iOS so good?

  • Mason Jones

    I switched over to Google Inbox when it came out, and while I hated the web client (sticking with the standard Gmail web interface) I’ve found that on the iPhone it matches how I work really nicely. I can definitely understand if it doesn’t work for you, though — it’s pretty different. I might have to try Outlook though, after reading this. Thanks for the post on it, because I wouldn’t have even considered it myself…

  • Howard Engelhart

    I switched to Outlook a few months ago, using it for 5 different accounts using 4 different providers. Been very pleased so far. Only one complaint.. integration with iOS sharing functionality, particularly around photos. You can attach a photo from within the Outlook app, but sharing a photo from the Photos app to Outlook is not currently supported. At least not in the version i have.

    • Thank you Howard. We’ll be working on better integrating workflows moving forward.

  • Great timing. I hate apple’s mail on iPhone. Can’t search or find anything. Downloading Outlook today.

    • I actually use Mail on iPhone to search since Outlooks search is limited. Maybe I’m using it wrong.

  • Microsoft is changing.

    Azure is an amazing cloud platform, finally .Net is open source, and now you are blogging about using Outlook.

  • Guest

    I use the new Outlook app on my Android phone and I LOVE it. Still a few UI improvements that can be made, for sure, but overall very solid. I really like the integrated calendar.

  • WorruB

    One thing you didn’t mention that I find really great. I use chrome on my phone because I like the way the tabs work better and also it lets you hop back to the previous app. You can actually use it with outlook and it works great.

  • James W

    I love it! I’m an Outlook power user. I sync Outlook calendar and contacts with my Galaxy S6 using Akruto (www.akruto.com). And then to have Outlook for email on top of it. Everything is integrated and I can do Outlook stuff on my phone or PC without worrying about synchronizing.

  • Josh Larrabee

    I had the exact same experience. Tried Outlook for a couple weeks and decided it is better than Apple Mail. Now I use it for my business mail/calendar. I kept the Apple Mail and Calendar for my personal stuff. I like the delineation that provides me so I minimize my work time when I’m with family.

    Here are my favorite features: Quick Filters, Quick Reply to Meeting Invitees or only organizer, Press and Hold to select a message, and straight forward/quick response to meeting invites.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Awesome – thanks Josh. Really appreciate the insight into delineating between work and home.

  • Adam Johnson

    Brad – read this and decided to give it a spin. But I can’t live in two ecosystems on to different devices so I also did Outlook for Mac as well. The experience on both iPhone as well as Mac was very buggy and worked 60% of the time at best. Further, after 4 days of use on the iPhone the calendar feature no longer updated with invites or meeting changes…email worked, but it’s like calendar froze in time.

    Alas, back to the native mail app on iPhone and the same app on Mac. At least the experience is the same.

  • anon

    What about the security concerns outlook had earlier this year?

    I didnt read anything about it the last months.

  • @bfeld:disqus and @howard_engelhart:disqus, you’ll be pleased to hear that integration with iOS share functionality is on its way.