Outlook is designed to help you connect, organize and get things done quickly and easily. With all your emails, calendar events, contacts and files in one place it is even more critical to simplify how you find what you need. Microsoft Search is providing helpful ways to do that with new innovation in Outlook for iOS and Android using intelligent technology to provide insights and predictive results. Search in Outlook mobile is organized and personalized for you, saving you time and helping you be prepared for your commitments.
We are pleased to announce that we're rolling out the ability to use natural language to search to find what you need in Outlook for iOS and Android. This means you can choose to speak or type your search query using everyday language to filter and narrow your search for emails, calendar events, contact information and files. This new way to search in Outlook can save you time when you dictate your query rather than type and when you use filtering terms such as “last week”, “next appointment”, or “phone number” to easily get to the results that you need.
The new experience introduces two elements in the Search home screen. First, a small microphone icon in the search box and second, when you tap the mic icon, a small card appears at the bottom of your screen that suggests questions you can ask and are relevant to you. Once you start to speak, Outlook captures what you say on screen and initiates the search based on your question. You can expect to see this experience start to roll out at the beginning of April for Microsoft 365 customers, both consumers and business users, in the United States.
If you enter a search query with details about a specific calendar event, Search in Outlook mobile will help reduce the effort to stay organized and on time by providing answers that include a quick action associated with the event, such as Join or RSVP. These Calendar search answers are intent-driven, meaning that the experience provides results that are most relevant to you. So if you search using everyday terms such as “when is my next meeting with John next week”, Microsoft Search in Outlook can understand which of your contacts with the name John is in question, find which scheduled event is on your calendar that matches the time frame for next week and deliver results that are relevant and actionable.
We will soon roll out top results in Outlook mobile for keyword queries. Outlook will curate results that are most relevant, not solely based on the most recent, and put them at the top of your Search results. This is especially useful when the natural language search option to filter results is not available.
Outlook continues to focus on making it easier to stay connected to the people in your daily life, your work colleagues, family and friends. This is why your top contacts, whether you’re working in your work or school accounts or staying connected in your personal account, remain at the top of the Search home page in Outlook mobile. We are now using Microsoft Search to bring forward more information about people in your organization that are relevant to you so you can quickly take action (people answers) based on the intent of your search. For example, you can use the keyword search to look for something specific about a person such as their phone number, office or email address. Outlook will provide the image or avatar if available so you can quickly pick the right person and get their phone number and email. With one tap, you can either start an email message or call them without having to open up their contact card to retrieve their contact details.
Previously, when you searched for a specific person, Outlook searched across the content in your mailbox for information as you entered it into the keyword search box. Now we are using Microsoft Search to suggest people that are relevant to you based on emails you may have received from that person. Outlook helps keep you connected to people you communicate with across various Microsoft 365 experiences such as in Teams meetings and chat, OneDrive file collaboration, events and meetings on your calendar or through email. The Microsoft Graph helps establish those connections and Outlook personalizes the experience through Search in Outlook mobile.
Outlook is more than an inbox, it’s your personal organizer where you can manage your day around your work and life commitments. Keeping on top of your tasks at any time is key to being organized so we’re starting to connect the experiences between Outlook mobile and the Microsoft To Do app. Outlook will proactively pull your top 3 tasks from your Microsoft account and add them to the Search home page in Outlook for iOS, even if you created these tasks in other Outlook experiences such as Outlook on the web, Windows or Mac as well as Outlook.com. You’ll be able to mark them as complete as you go about your day or if you need to do more, Outlook for iOS enables you to quickly pivot to the To Do app on your phone to further manage your tasks.
Staying organized also means showing up to your meetings on time and prepared, whether those are online or in person. At Microsoft Ignite 2019, we shared how Up Next in your Focused Inbox helps you show up on time and Meeting Insights brings together your relevant emails and files for specific meetings right in your calendar event details so you can easily show up prepared. To further personalize your experience, we are bringing Meeting Insights to Search in Outlook for iOS. Events that are coming up this week for you will be on your Search home page providing quick access to the files you’ll need to be prepared without the effort and time to enter a specific search query.
We are evolving the Search capabilities in Outlook and across Microsoft 365 to provide a consistent, coherent experience where it makes sense. Part of our commitment is to continue to bring you more results proactively based on your personal organization and collaboration needs as well as connections to people in your daily work and personal life. We are also updating how your search results are organized by rolling out tabbed results in Outlook for iOS in the coming weeks. Outlook will also provide helpful ways to find what you need, even if you mis-type or misspell a word in your keyword search – which is easily done on a small keyboard. If that happens or your keyword query does not give you a sufficient volume of results, Outlook will suggest a keyword that is spelled correctly and provide results based on that intent so you won’t need to retype anything. And finally, based on customer feedback, we recently added the ability for you to search your deleted folder in Outlook for Android, just as you could in Outlook for iOS.
Thank you for your continued feedback in Outlook.uservoice.com, through your Microsoft account teams and within the app under Help & Feedback. We welcome your questions and additional feedback here too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What are the types of questions you can ask to find what you need in Outlook mobile using natural language?
A1: You can ask to find people's contact information such as phone numbers, emails and office location as well as ask to call or email a specific person. Ask to find events or meetings by name, time or attendees. In addition, you can ask what is your next meeting or to join a meeting that is in progress. Emails can be located based on who sent them, the key words in the subject or the message body, time frame it was sent as well as attachments.
Q2: What do I need to do to enable Search using natural language in Outlook mobile?
A2: There is nothing you need to do to enable Search in Outlook mobile using natural language. This capability requires an Office 365, Exchange Online or Outlook.com account and the device settings for Language and Region set to English in the United State respectively.
Q3: What if you’re not connected or online, which features require an active connection to generate relevant results and answers?
A3: All of the experiences described in this article require a network connection with the exception of Tabbed results, your search results will still be organized by tab, and your top 3 tasks in Search from To Do will still show on your Search home page but will be based on the details synchronized from the last network connection and saved on the device. If a network connection is not available, for example when in airplane mode, the Search results will be limited to what is available locally on the device.
Q4: What if I don’t have To Do on my phone?
A4: Outlook is able to provide your top 3 tasks on your Search home page in Outlook for iOS based on tasks in your Microsoft 365 account (including Outlook.com) so you don’t need To Do on your phone. If you want to manage those tasks beyond marking them as complete in Outlook and you don’t have To Do on your device, we will help you get To Do from the Apple app store.
Q5: Do I need a different account to use To Do?
A5: No, you can use the same account that you are using in Outlook for iOS, just make sure your Default Mail Account is the same account to which you've added tasks. You can configure this by going to your Outlook mobile Settings > Mail > Default. Make sure you have tasks under the main tasks folder in Microsoft To Do, or have tasks in the task pane in Outlook on the web.
Q6: Can I change the task list.
A6: Not at this time, Outlook only synchronizes the tasks from the To Do default task list.
Q7: How do I create tasks in Outlook for iOS?
A7: We currently don’t support the ability to create tasks in Outlook for iOS but we are working on it! For now, you can start by creating tasks in Outlook for Windows, Mac, or on the web. You can also install the Microsoft To Do app to get started.
Q8: There's a lot of new updates coming to Search in Outlook mobile! How can I keep track of what will roll out when?
A8: Our goal is to start rolling out all these feature updates by the end of April. Here’s how you can track them on the Microsoft 365 roadmap:
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