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Microsoft's latest buy, Acompli, is a great email app

James A. Martin | Dec. 5, 2014
Microsoft just spent big bucks on Acompli, and reviewer James A. Martin says the free Android and iOS email app appears to be a worthy investment for the company. Here's why.

acompli ipad

Microsoft this week announced it had acquired Acompli, an email and calendar integration app for Android and iOS. Re/code reports that Microsoft paid "north of $200 million," a far cry from Facebook's nearly $19 billion buyout of messaging app WhatsApp.

Still, Microsoft's acquisition raises two questions (at least) for mobile users: 1) With approximately 10 zillion email apps available today, why Acompli? And 2), is the free app worth a download?

According to a Microsoft blog post, Acompli "provides innovative ways to focus on what's important in your inbox, to schedule meetings, and work with attachments and files. Users love how it connects to all email services and provides a single place to manage email with a focus on getting things done."

Let's parse that paragraph to help determine if Acompli is worth a look.

"Innovative ways to focus on what's important in your inbox." Acompli does something simple but effective here. It separates messages into two tabs, "Focused" and "Other."

The Other tab houses your email subscriptions, customer service notifications, notices of orders processed, and similar communications. Everything else lands in the Focused tab, on the assumption that those messages require your attention. In my experience, Acompli does an excellent job of sorting mail into the two different tabs.

"Innovative ways ... to schedule meetings." This is probably my favorite Acompli feature. If you need to let someone know when you're available, you can create a new email or respond to one in Acompli. Tapping the calendar icon at the bottom of the message jumps you into your smartphone's calendar, where you can tap to select available slots. When you're done, Acompli adds a list of those time slots to the body of your email. When recipients receive messages on smartphones, they can tap one of the available slots to automatically create events in their calendars. I love this feature. (You can also create calendar invites.)

"Innovative ways ... to work with attachments and files." Acompli make it easy to add files stored in Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive to email messages. To attach Dropbox files to email, you must first connect your Dropbox account to Acompli. When you've linked the two, you select Dropbox as the file source, locate the file and then choose it. Acompli then sends a link to the recipient so they can view and download the file -- it doesn't send the actual file. Though it's not exactly simple to browse through files, Acompli's search tool makes it a snap to find specific documents.

"Users love how it connects to all email services." Acompli connects to Microsoft Exchange and (surprise!), as well as Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! The iCloud support is a bit unusual for an email app.


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