Microsoft's new scheduling tool for Outlook on iOS could make it easier to book meetings

Microsoft recently announced that it was introducing a new scheduling tool for its Outlook mobile app that helps users find their coworkers' availability and book meetings.

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Microsoft Outlook users on iOS may soon find it easier to schedule and book meetings with coworkers. On Monday, Microsoft announced that it was releasing a new scheduling assistant for Outlook on iOS, similar to the scheduling experience on desktop, a blog post said. According to Microsoft's numbers, Outlook has more than 400 million active users.

The functionality is pretty standard, allowing for users to see their coworker's free times and book meetings accordingly. The announcement follows the news that Microsoft made in September when it unveiled a new calendar and integration for Skype for Business and Maps, the blog post stated.

Users start by adding a calendar event, and then adding their coworkers names into the People field, the post said. Once a user then goes to select a date, a color coding system is used to show which dates are available and which are not.

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"Times that work for everyone show in white, yellow indicates availability for one or more people in the group, and red indicates times with no availability," the blog post said. "Next, tap the time picker and just drag and drop until it turns green--indicating everyone is available at that time."

Once a user has the date settled, they simply fill in the remain pieces of information and tap on the checkmark symbol to save the event and alert their coworkers. While it is only available on iOS now, Microsoft's post did say that the functionality is coming to Android and Windows 10 mobile soon.

As mentioned earlier, the announcement follows the company's recent updates to its Outlook mobile app, which included a number of new features aimed at maintaining its enterprise customer base.

The Calendar Apps feature allows users to integrate popular apps like Wunderlist, Facebook, and Evernote to get a broader view of their work day. Additionally, another blog post said, icons help to better identify certain types of appointments (e.g. coffee meetings or lunch). Also, a Skype for Business integration allows users to input the meeting details more easily and join the meeting directly from their calendar.

The updates are welcome, but many of them are similar to features that other mobile apps, like Gmail, have had for a while. Only time will tell if Microsoft will be able to compete on the mobile front with a proprietary app for Outlook.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft is releasing a new scheduling assistant for its Outlook mobile app that aims to make it easier for professionals to book meetings with coworkers.
  2. The new tool helps find times that work for everyone with a color-coded system.
  3. The feature follows other new additions, such as Maps and Skype for Business integration, that could make Outlook more competitive on mobile.

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