It’s been all tablets all the time here at the Prowess Consulting testing labs. We love getting our hands dirty with new tech, and we thought it high time to test one of the most widely used, relied upon collaborative tools for business users today: Microsoft Outlook.
We tested two mobile devices on several Outlook workflows. Outlook delivers a powerful email, calendaring, and task experience, and Outlook can now be used on a mobile device. Furthermore, an estimated 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office, and those users depend on the integration of Office with Outlook. [i]
The contenders were the Intel processor–powered HP ElitePad 1000 G2 (you may recognize this device from studies such as Home Health Care and Content Decay) and the Apple iPad Air 2.
Full well knowing that business users want to be mobile and that they will be using Outlook on their mobile device of choice, Apple now delivers several options for Microsoft Exchange users: The native email and calendar applications can sync with work Exchange accounts, OWA for iPad can help users enjoy all the features of the Outlook Web App available on any browser, and—most recently—the Outlook application for iPad launched into the arena with much ado. But, like the other two email and calendaring solutions before it, the Outlook application for iPad was much ado about nothing.
Surely a software program created for a Windows-based device would prove the winner, of this I had no doubt. What continued to startle me, however, was just how many Outlook features the iPad Air 2 couldn’t perform—even with its three different offerings for users to access Exchange. The winner was clear: the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 outperformed the iPad Air 2 at every turn.
Apple iPad Air 2: It Just Won’t Do
Our findings presented many Outlook tasks the iPad simply couldn’t do. Other findings showed the same workflow taking nearly double the amount of taps on the iPad Air 2.
Some Common Microsoft Outlook Features Unsupported on the Apple iPad Air 2
• Attach files to emails
• Reply in-line to emails (no colored text, no highlighted text, no comment initials)
• See a coworker’s open time to meet with the all-powerful scheduling assistant
• Get bridge information and paste it into a meeting request
• Create, manage, or use Tasks
Apple iPad Air 2: Makes Users Experts at Troubleshooting Workarounds
Whatever Outlook productivity the iPad Air 2 impeded entirely was only compounded by the workarounds it continually forced us to create.
Common tasks simply took fewer steps on the HP ElitePad 1000 G2, tasks such as:
Scheduling a meeting with a coworker took only 12 taps on the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 whereas the same task required nearly double the amount (23 taps). Why all the extra taps? Because the iPad Air 2 native calendaring app does not support the scheduling assistant users love in Outlook.
Creating a to-do item from the context of an email took only 12 taps on the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 versus 26 taps on an iPad Air 2. This is due to the iPad’s applications standing alone, not integrating with each other. With the HP ElitePad 1000 G2, users can simply flag an email to generate a task automatically. To do this on the iPad requires toggling in and out of the email application and the reminder application.
The Workday Outlook
We wrote up four different scenarios that included common workflows an Outlook user might perform daily. We wanted to see how each tablet would do in the following categories:
Email items, such as:
Attach locally saved documents and multiple spreadsheets to emails
Calendar items, such as:
Propose new times for meetings
Task items, such as:
Convert email flags to Outlook tasks
Use Microsoft Add-ins for Office: Lync and OneNote
Schedule a Lync meeting
Send Outlook emails to OneNote
Microsoft Outlook offers over 500 features on the HP ElitePad 1000 G2. Surprisingly even to us, the iPad Air 2 supported just over 60 of those features.
The lesson is clear. If a user wants to depend on Microsoft Outlook while on a mobile device, she will do so on an Intel processor–powered HP ElitePad 1000 G2.
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[i] Microsoft. “Microsoft by the Numbers.” January 2014. http://news.microsoft.com/bythenumbers/ms_numbers.pdf.