A new app out of Microsoft Garage allows Office 365 business and education users (for now) to trade quick messages without launching Outlook.
Microsoft's new messaging app, called Send, takes the ubiquity of Outlook email in business and school settings and adds instant messaging capabilities. The end result is an app that allows users to fire off quick messages without composing an email or text message.
Send, a Microsoft Garage app, is available in the United States and Canada at the Apple App Store for iPhones. Android and Windows Phone versions are in the works. Currently, the app only works with Office 365 business and educational accounts, although Microsoft expects to broaden its availability to other plans in the coming months, the company said.
, an offshoot of Office Labs, is dedicated to publishing consumer apps for multiple platforms. Generally, Garage apps hail from experimental projects from employees or those of Microsoft's own research division. They are coded quickly and subsequently released to the public as a means of testing the waters for new mobile experiences.
One early example is Torque, a voice-enabled Android app that allows users to search Bing quickly by shaking the phone, or a twist of the wrist in the case of Android smartwatch owners. Another app, Journeys & Notes, creates an anonymized, location-aware social network for commuters to share tips and stories.
Now, Microsoft Garage is turning its attention to expanding Office 365's mobile messaging capabilities by integrating with Outlook.
The lightweight app offers instant messaging (IM) capabilities that hook into Outlook. "Send gives you the simple, quick text message-like experience while allowing you to reach all co-workers and have all of your communications in Outlook for reference later," said Microsoft in a July 22 announcement
"The connection with Office 365 means your conversations are synced with Outlook, letting you continue the conversation from anywhere," the company's Outlook Team went on to explain. "And just like regular email, you can message anyone with an email address. No need to exchange numbers, remember usernames or split conversations across platforms."
On the iPhone, Send barely scratches the surface of what Outlook can do. And it's a good thing, at least for quick bursts of on-the-go productivity, the company argued.
"With Send, there are no signatures, subject lines or salutations required. Our design principle for the app was to make conversations fast and fluid while keeping the people who are important to you at its core," said Microsoft. "Send connects to Office 365 business and school email accounts to surface your frequent and recent contacts."
Although it provides a consumer-like communications experience, Send adheres to Office 365's enterprise-grade management roots, the company stressed. "Send doesn't show all your emails, just the ones started in the app, keeping you in control," wrote the Outlook Team. "All Send messages comply with your organization’s email compliance policies—they are treated like any other work email." In a sign that Microsoft intends for the app to be used by the company's big business customers, the group revealed that they are "working on bringing more IT controls to the app in the coming months."