Sunrise Calendar's Last Rays Shine on Outlook Mobile

Microsoft updates Outlook's calendar on iOS and Android, adding more features inspired by the now-defunct Sunrise app.

Microsoft mobile calendar app

Microsoft acquired Sunrise, the popular calendar app for iOS and Android, in early 2015. Last fall, the software giant announced plans to shutter the app as the Office group ported more of the its features and functionality over to the Outlook mobile apps.

This week, coinciding with a big update to Outlook's calendar on iOS and Android, Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on Sunrise.

In a Sept. 13 blog post, the Sunrise team wrote that they were "moving on for good to Outlook and shutting down the Sunrise apps on iOS, Android, Mac and Web." Sunrise calendars stopped updating yesterday, and today, users are being logged out of their accounts.

"We've kept our promise to bring the magic of Sunrise to the Outlook calendar—and the Outlook inbox while we were at it—and we're only getting started," they added.

Indeed, Microsoft added event icons that automatically appear alongside calendar items when the app detects certain keywords in the event title. For example, an icon depicting a cup appears when a user carves out time for coffee with a colleague. The company also added new icons to the standard complement previously provided by Sunrise.

Outlook also does a better job of channeling Sunrise when users create calendar events.

"As we continue to bring more of the Sunrise design expertise to Outlook, we updated our date and time pickers so that scheduling is easier than ever," wrote Javier Soltero, corporate vice president of Outlook, in a separate Office Blogs post. "Our new design provides a simpler, more intuitive way to choose the date and time when creating a meeting—matching how Outlook works on the web or desktop."

Soltero co-founded Acompli and served as its CEO before Microsoft acquired the mobile email app developer in 2014. The modern versions of Outlook for iOS and Android are based on the Acompli app.

In April, Microsoft ported over another signature Sunrise feature, the ability to link calendars with Evernote, Facebook and Wunderlist, allowing users to keep tabs on their to-do lists and Facebook events without having to leave the app.

Building on the Skype integrations from earlier this year, users can now use Skype for Business meetings on their smartphones. The option, which only appears for those with an Office 365 address, is currently being rolled out to most users (roughly 75 percent), with the remainder to follow soon, Microsoft noted in a Frequently Asked Questions write-up.

Also new is the ability to apply changes to recurring events. The company plans to issue an update in the future that allows users to create recurring events, Soltero said.

The new Interesting Calendars feature, which is already available in and Office 365 calendars for customers in North America, allows sports fans to subscribe to a team's calendar so that they never miss a game. Other calendars, including TV shows, are in the works.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...