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iPhone and iPad users can finally get Outlook on their mobile devices, provided that they jump through a major hoop.
Microsoft's new Outlook Web Apps (OWA) for the iPhone and iPad are a sign that its reluctance to release iOS versions of its productivity software offerings is slowly eroding. Yet like its Office Mobile App, which allows iOS users to edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, the price of admission is an Office 365 subscription.
"OWA for iPhone and OWA for iPad are mobile apps that offer the same email, calendar and contact functionality you get in Outlook Web App on the browser, but with additional capabilities that are only possible through native integration of the app with mobile devices," blogged Steve Chew, a senior manager in Microsoft's Exchange technical marketing team.
Office 365 is Microsoft's software subscription service that blends locally installed software with cloud-enabled features like file syncing and SkyDrive storage.
"A subscription to Office 365 that includes the latest update of Exchange Online is required to use the app," he added. The Exchange Online update was among several enhancements announced in February for the recent Office 365 refresh.
Each app was designed to leverage the screen real estate afforded by its respective device, noted Chew. One obvious way to spot the difference between the iPhone and iPad editions is the Inbox. "The inbox in OWA for iPad defaults to a two-column view that shows the list view and reading pane with the folder pane collapsed. Meanwhile, the inbox in OWA for iPhone defaults to a one-column list view with controls to switch to the folder pane and reading pane," added Chew.
Further, Outlook on iOS was crafted to support the way users work in the post-PC era. OWA is "optimized for touch interaction with a user interface designed to respond to gestures like tapping and swiping," informed Chew. OWA also features voice support. User can press and hold the OWA icon and use voice commands to, for example, start the process of composing an email to a select recipient or open an Outlook calendar.
The iPhone and iPad editions of the Outlook Web App (OWA) are available now via the iTunes store.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.