Microsoft finally brings Outlook app to iPhone and iPad

Outlook Web App includes push notifications, voice input and offline mode.

Microsoft has made an Outlook Web App (OWA) available to download for iPhone and iPad devices, as the firm continues to bolster its offerings on the iOS platform.

The app integrates commonly used features such as the Exchange inbox, Calendar and People Hub into the heart of iOS. It follows the launch of the Office Mobile for iOS app in June.

The OWA for iPhone and iPad are free to download for Office 365 subscribers.

Core features of OWA include the long overdue introduction of push notifications for Exchange email and event reminders. OWA contacts are also automatically synced with the device address book, so when a colleague calls your iPhone their name will pop up.

Microsoft has tried to optimise the apps for different screen sizes. The inbox for iPad app defaults to a two-column view, showing a list of messages and the reading pane. The iPhone uses a one-column view with controls to switch to the folder pane and reading pane.

The app include all the options you'd expect from its web-based and PC counterpart. It's possible to search your inbox, manage automatic replies, set the time zone and configure email signatures. Microsoft has also built in an offline mode into the app, so it's possible to compose, read, delete and flag messages when you're not connected to the internet. Users can also view and edit calendar and contact information.

Voice input has been integrated too, although only for English language users at present. Tapping the button allows users to execute commands such as "Open calendar for tomorrow" or "New email to Augustus".

On the security side, IT admins are able to delete emails and unsync the calendar remotely in the event an employee takes a device when leaving a company or if the handset is lost/stolen.

Microsoft has only provided a native email client on its own Windows Phone mobile operating system up till now. However, with the platform failing to shift a significant number of units compared to Android and iOS devices, the firm seems to have realised it needs to make apps for the more popular platforms.

"Our goal is to help our customers remain productive anytime, anywhere. In order to better support many of our customers who use their iPhones and iPads for work, we are introducing OWA for iPhone and OWA for iPad, which bring a native Outlook Web App experience to iOS devices," noted Steve Chew, senior product marketing manager in the Office blog.

To use the OWA, users will need an iPhone 4S or above. No limitations have been placed on which version of the iPad can be used, but Microsoft specifies that users will need iOS 6 or above to function.

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