Outlook for iOS Introduces Email Add-ins

Today as it launched version 2.1 of Outlook for iOS, Microsoft announced a new feature for the app: add-ins. Add-ins are a form of integration with both third-party and first-party services that provide multiple new ways to manage your email, and they’re available only to Office 365 customers.

Add-ins each offer a different way to interact with an email. Evernote and Trello’s add-ins let you add the contents of an email into a note or card, respectively. GIPHY’s presents you a gallery of GIFs, one of which you can choose to send as a reply to that email. Translator lets you quickly and easily translate the contents of the message into your selected language. This versatility of add-ins, with each one serving your email management differently, is an early strength of the platform.

Activating add-ins from Settings.

Activating add-ins from Settings.

Setting up each add-in is fairly simple. Within the Settings screen, there’s now an add-in menu where you’ll find all the current integrations. Tapping the box next to one will activate at, at which point you’ll be asked to login to your account for that service if applicable. After that, you’re done.

To put an add-in to use, tap the icon consisting of four squares, found near the upper right-hand corner of an email. This will bring up a list of all add-ins you currently have activated. Each one provides a description of what it does, such as “Translate Message,” “Reply with GIPHY,” and so on.

The interface for using an add-in.

The interface for using an add-in.

The following add-ins are available today:

  • Dynamics 365
  • Evernote
  • Nimble
  • Smartsheet
  • Translator
  • Trello

Microsoft also announced on its developer blog that the add-in platform is open to developers, so any developer can add support for their own service by following Microsoft’s outlined instructions.

The add-in platform seems like it could add a lot of value to the way email is managed, but its restriction to Office 365 users makes me concerned the platform won’t see wide enough adoption. Not only do you have to be an Office 365 customer, but you can only use add-ins with your Microsoft account. So while I have both my iCloud and Microsoft email accounts setup in Outlook, add-ins can only be used with the latter, which makes them vastly less useful to me.

Outlook 2.1 is available on the App Store.

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