Google and Microsoft Announce Back to Back Email Updates (Again)
Call us paranoid. Call us conspiracy theorists.
But admit it, the timing of Microsoft and Google’s email upgrades sometimes feel a bit suspicious, as if both companies keep new email features at the ready in case their competitor makes an announcement.
This week was no exception.
On Wednesday, Google announced an improved mobile experience for Gmail and Inbox. Microsoft followed up on Thursday with its announcement of Google Drive support for Outlook.com users.
Coincidence? We’ll let you decide.
Inbox and Gmail Get Responsive
Google’s upgrades aim to make its Inbox experience better on mobile devices, particularly smartphones.
In a blog post about the upgrades, Pierce Vollucci, product manager at Google discussed the issues that arise when reading email — most of which is still formatted for a computer — on mobile. Later this month, Gmail and Inbox by Gmail will support emails created with responsive design, marking an end to wonky rendering on different screens.
Text, links and buttons will enlarge to make reading and tapping easier on a smaller screen. The improvements carry over to desktops, as emails designed for mobile will also adapt to fit larger screens.
While an apparently minor release, the focus is to increase email accessibility and make it easier to work with. This small step forward adds to Google’s cumulative effort over the last year to dramatically improve functionality in both inboxes.
In August, for example, upgrades enabled the Inbox to interact with the Trello project management application and also with GitHub’s software collaboration platform.
Outlook.com Gets Google Drive Support
The upgrades take both companies a step closer to the goal of making their respective inboxes the single place in which all work can be done.
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has been working on the Outlook inbox to allow users to access, create, edit and store files in the cloud without needing to leave their email.
Outlook already offered a tight integration with OneDrive — which comes with an Outlook account preconfigured — and mobile app support for Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. Up until this announcement, the Outlook web app didn’t offer Google Drive support.
On top of the Google Drive access for Outlook.com, Microsoft this week added stronger search capabilities for email attachments and the ability to share Facebook photos from Outlook.
This means users can open and edit Google Doc, Slide or Sheets from within Outlook.com. In theory, this will include the ability to save Google documents in OneDrive with an OneDrive integration, but until Microsoft releases the web app, it won’t be possible to test that.
These releases give Outlook.com access to a part of the cloud that it never had before and continue Microsoft’s year-long roll of the “new” Outlook.com experience, which is due to be completed later this fall.