Earlier this month Microsoft made it much easier to use its cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, on an iPad.
Microsoft released native Outlook clients for iPhone and iPad so Office 365 users could check their email, look up contacts and make appointments in the calendar. The client, called OWA for Outlook Web App, requires an Office 365 business subscription to Exchange Online.
The mobile app mostly replicated the same functions and interface as Office 365’s browser-based Outlook Web App, although it offered several extra features through the native integration with the Apple operating system.
It’s important to note that the OWA iPad app is not as fully featured as the mobile version of Outlook. Microsoft has reserved Outlook Mobile for smartphones and tablets running Windows Phone 8.
Still, the app is a big step up for iPad users who previously had to rely on the Safari browser for Office 365.
A button in the bottom left corner switches between Mail, Calendar, People and Options. The Mail layout is similar to the iPad’s native Mail client, although the colour scheme and styling are unmistakably Microsoft.
One interesting inclusion is the ability to launch apps for Outlook within OWA. A Microsoft product manager described how a user could look up addresses in Bing Maps within OWA by tapping on the app bar at the bottom of the reading pane.
OWA for iPad stores messages on the device in the same way as Apple Mail. This lets you access your emails, contacts and calendar without an email connection. OWA lets you read, delete and flag messages, as well as compose new messages or reply to messages in your inbox.
The colourful calendar has made a successful transition to iOS. Thanks to its native integration, meeting reminders pop up even when the app is closed. You can also switch on voice-activated actions for scheduling meetings or sending email.
OWA for iPhone syncs contacts with the native Address Book app so the iPhone will recognise a caller’s number and display their name.