Microsoft has been criticized in the past for stuffing too many features into its desktop software — more features than most users could possibly want. However, the company strikes a much better balance these days with mobile apps, as demonstrated by the latest version of its Outlook app.
Outlook's new "calendar apps" feature, for example, adds compelling reasons to use the app: integration with Evernote, Wunderlist, and Facebook. You can now add Facebook birthdays and events to your Outlook calendar, as well as Wunderlist to-do items and Evernote notes, as long as they all have due dates.
The new integration makes Outlook's calendar even more useful, and it gives Microsoft another compelling advantage over its seemingly 10 billion mobile calendar app competitors. I bailed on the desktop version of Outlook about eight years ago, but the mobile version has become nearly invaluable to me. It's a welcome upgrade from, say, Apple's anemic Mail, Calendar, and Contacts iOS apps.
Microsoft owns the excellent to-do list app Wunderlist, so weaving its reminders and to-dos into Outlook makes perfect sense. Microsoft also deserves some kudos for its decision to support Evernote tasks and to-dos, because Evernote is a leading rival of the company's OneNote service and apps.
Outlook mobile also now lets you can change the default calendar colors for your Facebook, Evernote, and Wunderlist items, and that helps identify the sources of your appointments more easily. And Outlook offers extremely useful integration with other services, as well, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and, of course, Microsoft's own OneDrive.
The app does have some limitations, unfortunately. For example, you can't swipe on email in Outlook and turn them into Wunderlist to-do items. The calendar apps feature also is not yet available on iPads, though it works on Android smartphones and tablets.
Shortcomings aside, Outlook is turning into the productivity app to beat on mobile devices — and it's free.