Outlook.com for Android has been updated with a brighter interface and better functionality, bringing it more in line with its Web-based counterpart.
While the previous version of Outlook.com for Android may have been a drab and dreary mess, the newest update to the app marks a significant turnaround. Now more in line with its Web-based big brother, the Outlook.com app is brighter and offers a more enjoyable e-mail experience overall.
The Outlook app's interface is made up of sharp angles, straight lines, and a wealth of white space, giving it an altogether minimalist appearance. In fact, with the gray toolbar and distinctively styled buttons at the bottom of the screen, this Outlook Android app looks very much like it belongs on a Windows Phone device. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it could make the app's controls seem foreign to those who are used to Android staples like the dotted menu button up top. Plus, it will probably disappoint purists who love Android's typical Holo style of app.
The gray toolbar is useful, as it offers quick access to Compose, Refresh, and Search buttons when you're looking at your Inbox. And there's a sliding panel on the left, from which you can access your drafts, sent messages, and other e-mail folders.
Outlook's search function, thank goodness, has been fixed and now works the way it should. While previously it would only search for contacts, it can now scrub through the text contained in your messages as well.
When it comes to e-mail basics, the Outlook app works like a charm. It can sync to your device's contacts and calendar, and you can set its refresh frequency. There's a Push notification option, which is great, or you can have the app sync as infrequently as every hour, or manually, if you want to conserve battery life. And as is pretty standard with mail clients, you can even choose to sync only specific folders.
The Compose e-mail screen is as clean and minimal as you would expect, considering what the rest of the app looks like. It's mostly made up of white space, with the Cc and Bcc fields tucked into a menu, and the Send, Attach, and Delete buttons sitting in the gray toolbar at the bottom.
It's worth mentioning that Outlook makes it easy to attach files of any type to your e-mails, which is more than I can say for the Gmail app. By comparison, you can only attach photos and videos from within the Gmail app, and for all other file types you have to find that file on your Android device and use the Android share command.
Conveniently, Outlook for Android supports multiple e-mail accounts, including Live and Hotmail accounts. This means that if you use more than one, you can log in and easily toggle among them from the sliding panel on the app's Home screen. What the app does not support, though, is e-mail aliases. While Outlook for Android does let you receive messages addressed to your e-mail aliases (Microsoft lets you create up to five per account), the app does not let you send e-mails from them, which is inconvenient for power users.
One thing I really like about the Outlook.com app is that it offers an extra level of security via password protection. With this option enabled, you can add at least one more safeguard against unauthorized readers in case you lose your device.
Overall, Microsoft did a great job with this version of the Outlook app for Android. Visually, it's head and shoulders above its predecessor, its push notifications are reliable, and it has most of the tools you could ask for in an e-mail client.