Microsoft Outlook mobile app supports native Teams scheduling

Users can now schedule Microsoft Teams meetings through the Outlook mobile app. The feature is advancement toward parity between Teams and Skype for Business.

The Microsoft Outlook mobile app now lets users simultaneously generate a meeting in Microsoft Teams when adding events to their email calendar. Meanwhile, the vendor has been updating the Teams mobile app with advanced features like location sharing and audio messages.

When scheduling a meeting in the Outlook apps for iOS and Android, users will now see a button -- that can be turned on or off -- for generating a Teams meeting link and phone dial-in code to accompany the calendar event.

The simple but useful change brings Teams more on par with Skype for Business, which Microsoft is attempting to shift users away from. Users have long been able to schedule Skype meetings through the Outlook app.

"This has been around forever in Skype for Business," said Tom Arbuthnot, principal solutions architect at Modality Systems, a Microsoft-focused systems integrator.

Microsoft also recently updated the Outlook mobile app to include a meeting join button that launches the Teams mobile app. That setup avoids users having to scroll through the body of the event invitation to find a URL for joining the meeting.

Microsoft's stranglehold on the business email and calendar market could help the vendor expand the user base of Teams. In its most recent earnings call with investors, Microsoft said more than 100 million people were using the Outlook mobile app.

"The potential is every one of those could be a Teams user," Arbuthnot said.

Microsoft Teams mobile app keeps pace with desktop

Microsoft updated the Teams mobile app earlier this year with new features, including location sharing, smart photo capture and audio messaging.

Users can use GPS data to share their location with co-workers through a channel or direct message -- a feature that would be especially useful for field workers. Microsoft has targeted Teams at non-office workers to a far greater degree than competitors Slack and Cisco Webex Teams.

Smart photo capture makes it easier to share images of documents by automatically framing and cropping the photo, imitating a scanning device. To satisfy compliance and security concerns, Teams does not store pictures taken in the app on the user's mobile device.

Another new feature lets users record and send audio messages through chat channels.

The mobile app has emerged as the main selling point for Teams, despite Microsoft's history as a desktop-first vendor, Arbuthnot said. The Teams mobile app is "unusually mature for Microsoft," he said.

"They have definitely embraced mobile first, mobile native," he said. "In the old Microsoft world, the desktop app would be miles ahead of the mobile apps."

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