Why it matters to you
Microsoft is giving you a better Mail & Calendar app in Windows 10, with the hope of ending your search for a better alternative.
The Windows 10 Creators Update, which will add new gaming features, 3D support, and more to the OS, is due soon. But it’s not just Windows 10 that’s being enhanced, as Microsoft continues to improve its first-party Windows 10 apps as well.
The Mail & Calendar app is particularly important to users, as it serves as the main communications tool for most people running Windows 10. Not everyone has an interest in Outlook 2016 or in searching out alternatives, and so the changes that Microsoft outlined in its recent post on the Windows blog should be particularly welcome.
First up is a new feature that’s been covered before and that should be familiar to anyone using Microsoft’s Outlook Mobile app on iOS and Android. Called “Focused Inbox,” the feature makes it easier to keep your most important email separated from the less important messages — if you trust Microsoft’s machine intelligence to determine what’s important, that is.
Just as its name implies, Focused Inbox creates a separate tab where the app places those messages it deems most important. Lesser emails are placed in an Other tab. Both tabs provide a visual indicator that new messages are available in whichever tab isn’t currently open, and you can fine-tune the Focused Inbox feature by moving email from one tab to another. You can also turn Focused Inbox off if you find it more of a hindrance than a help.
Next up is the ability to precede a name with the @ symbol when it’s in the body of an email message to pull up frequent contacts and gain access to the contact directory. If that person isn’t in the list of recipients, they’ll be added, and they’ll also be highlighted in blue so they know they’re being addressed. If you’ve been mentioned in an email using the feature, then the @ symbol will appear in your message list and you’ll be able to filter to see all of the messages where you’ve been mentioned.
Changes are also coming for the Calendar portion of the Mail & Calendar app. New features include:
- Color categories to allow you to categorize events by color and quickly pick out specific event types.
- An Interesting Calendars feature that lets you add a variety of different calendars that are powered by Bing to let you more easily keep track of things like your favorite sports team and maintain a TV schedule.
- The Mail & Calendar app already pulls travel and package delivery information from your emails and adds them to your calendar. Now, Microsoft is adding simplified summary cards in your Mail inbox and in the calendar to make it easier for you to access the details.
- A variety of smaller improvements have also been added to the Calendar app. You’ll see location suggestions from Bing, have the ability to add Skype for online meetings, be able to more easily pick emojis, and more.
All of these new features work with Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts for now. Microsoft will be adding support for other services in the future. You may already be enjoying some of these new features if you’re a Windows Insider running the most recent Windows 10 preview builds, but soon enough everyone will have access to much-improved Mail & Calendar functionality.