Outlook on iOS update makes it easier to open, share and edit Office docs on the fly

Microsoft has updated Outlook to cut down on the number of steps required when editing and collaborating on documents in iOS.

If you've noticed a few changes in the way Outlook on iOS handles attachments, that's due to an update Microsoft rolled out this week that brings tighter integration between the app and Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The update is designed to make it easier to collaborate on and share Office documents through Outlook, and also makes the app a platform to prompt users who haven't installed the Office apps to do so.

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For now, the changes are only for iOS but similar features for Android are coming in a few months, according to Microsoft.

The Outlook update lets iOS users open received Office attachments directly in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. The point of the feature is collaboration and makes it simpler to begin editing documents and share them with a minimum of steps.

With the update, attachments are displayed with blue text under the file name offering, for example, 'Open in PowerPoint'. That option only appears if the app is installed. If it's not, Outlook will just open the file in a viewer where it can't be edited but will display a link at the top of the viewer suggesting they install Microsoft's app from the App Store.

The update also makes it easier to collaborate on attachments and send edits in email from Outlook. This feature gives Outlook an even bigger edge than it already has over Apple's Mail app, particularly when it comes to sharing attachments like Word files.

Now, once a Word file is opened from Outlook and edits are made, the user can click on the back button in Word, which will close the document and add the updated file as an attachment to the current reply email.

The third big change to Outlook comes via new sharing features in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on iOS. The three apps now include a 'Send with Outlook' option in the Share menu. If this action is followed, the apps will bring up a 'Compose New Email' pane in Outlook with the document attached and ready to share. It adds another sharing option to the existing alternative: store the document in OneDrive or elsewhere and attach the file from the cloud.

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