Inbox Zero

I booted up my handy-dandy Android phone the other day and launched Microsoft’s Outlook for Android app. Guess what I saw? A new sliding menu feature called Schedule appeared:

Outlook for Android schedule feature

I thought to myself, “Wow, this is great! Outlook has finally introduced a much-needed feature to schedule emails to be sent later. Unfortunately, I was disappointed almost immediately. Upon researching this new feature, I found an article on the Microsoft Office blog explaining what the feature does. Turns out it doesn’t actually “schedule” anything. The current scheduling feature doesn’t really schedule the email, it simply temporarily removes the email from displaying in your inbox and will have the message reappear at the time you choose. What good is this?

There are good use-cases for scheduling emails. I’ve often sat down to get some work done late at night or on a weekend, but I don’t want an email to go out until the following day or on Monday morning. For marketing and similar workflow purposes, scheduling emails can be even more valuable. Oftentimes, I want to send email campaigns out to customers or groups at a predefined time Unfortunately, Outlook and other email applications are only able to send email while the client application is open.

One of the most desirable features that could be introduced to Office 365 would be the ability to truly schedule emails for sending later. Imagine being able to click “send later” and have your email(s) be sent when you choose, server side. While it is not technically possible to make a scheduling feature work for all types of email accounts like POP or IMAP (since no flag or server specification exists in those protocols to tell the email server to queue the message), Microsoft could make something like this work by enabling the feature only on Office 365 subscriptions and in the email client versions it develops (e.g. Outlook for Windows, Outlook for Mac, Outlook for IOS/Android).

 

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Dan Schneck is an experienced technology entrepreneur who enjoys working with and learning from passionate and driven people. He enjoys family time, jazz music, hockey, and sharing & discussing ideas and education.

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