Microsoft Turns Apple Watch Into an Outlook Inbox

In a revamp of its productivity-focused wearable apps portfolio, Microsoft brings the Outlook experience to Apple's smartwatch.

Apple Watch

Outlook is now available on Apple Watch, Microsoft announced on Aug. 6.

Available now on the Apple App Store, the app enables owners of the wearable to access their Outlook inboxes without pulling out their iPhones or iPads. "You'll never miss what's important with Focused Inbox Watch notifications," Microsoft's Carlos Bohórquez Marín, product manager for the Modern Collaboration group, said in a statement. Further, users can "browse and read full emails right from your wrist—even take action immediately by archiving, deleting, flagging or scheduling them to appear later."

The Quick Replies feature allows users to fire off pre-written responses with voice dictation support. "Finally, you can see unread emails and your next calendar appointment on the Glance screen," he added.

Wunderlist for Apple Watch, the company's to-do app, offers a new Quick Add option.

"Simply open the app, Force Touch and say, 'Call the new clients tomorrow at 10 a.m.' Wunderlist works its magic and creates the to-do item and automatically adds a Due Date and Reminder," said Bohórquez Marín. The app's Glance view has also been updated to display up to four to-dos.

Yammer, the enterprise social network platform, is also making its way to Apple Watch. And when it arrives, it will support Apple's Handoff technology, which allows users to transfer activities between Apple iOS devices. "You'll be notified instantly of Yammer announcements or updates to relevant conversations. Then tap your Apple Watch to Like, Mark as Unread, or View on Phone to continue working on your iPhone," he said.

With Microsoft Translator for Apple Watch and Android Wear, users can speak into their wrists and get translations in 50 languages. Commonly used translations and settings can be pinned to the watch screen.

The updated OneDrive app for Android Wear now offers a novel new personalization option. The OneDrive watch face will display photos stored on the cloud storage service from the last 30 days. New notifications alert users to edits made on shared documents.

Users of Microsoft's note-taking app for Android Wear now have one less reason to consult their smartphones. "Now, in addition to dictating a new note with the ease of saying 'Ok Google, take a note,' you can see your most recently viewed notes right on your watch," Bohórquez Marín stated. No more balancing acts are needed between your phone and whatever else is keeping your hands full."

Businesses are bracing for wearables and their productivity-enhancing potential, according to a recent study from consulting company Robert Half Technology. A whopping 81 percent of the 2,400 CIOs surveyed by the firm said they expect their employees to use wearables for work purposes in the future. More than a third (37 percent) expect to see workplace wearables in the next three to five years.

For Microsoft, these devices are an opportunity to extend the reach of its productivity software and cloud services slate.

"Wearables are an emerging type of device that promises to be always with you and provide relevant, personal notifications to keep you focused—through simple, natural and brief interactions," said Bohórquez Marín. "These context-aware devices become work companions, health advisors and even intelligent assistants."

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...