Microsoft Readies New Mac Outlook Editor, Expands GigJam Beta

Mac users will soon gain more flexibility in crafting their emails in Outlook 2016.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s barrier-busting GigJam app makes its way to more users.

This month, Microsoft is rolling out an update that will provide Mac users a more full-featured email authoring experience in Outlook 2016.

The email client is getting a new editor that allows for more fine-grained control over the content that users wish to include in their emails, announced Microsoft. For example, new resize and rotation handles appear when users insert an image into the body of an email, allowing for image modifications on the fly. Double-clicking the image opens up a task pane with a full set of image editing options.

The new email authoring experience also extends to text-based content.

“With the new editor in Outlook 2016 for Mac, you now have access to a richer set of fonts, font colors and bullet and numbered lists—plus enhanced font editing and hyperlink dialogs,” wrote the Microsoft Outlook team in a blog post. “These are available on the ribbon by using the familiar controls in the Message tab or using the menus for Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Signatures.”

The expanded functionality is reminiscent of the text-editing tools built into Word, Microsoft’s own word processing software. In a future update, the company plans to add support for tables, giving users more options on how to group and organize email content.

For users seeking a more collaborative way to work with email, Microsoft today announced an expansion of the GigJam beta program.

GigJam Invites on the Way
Today, Microsoft announced that the private GigJam preview is being opened up to everyone who signed up for early access. Email invitations will be arriving soon, if they haven’t already.

GigJam made its debut during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) last summer. The task-centric, barrier-busting app allows users to remix information from a variety of business applications, creating a sharable mini-app experience that incorporates elements that users pull into the GigJam canvas.

Drawing an on-screen circle links the information users wish to work with and maps data between separate data sets, allowing teams to collaboratively work on a task involving an email, a sales order and a customer record, for example. GigJam is compatible with Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant technology, opening up voice-enabled search capabilities.

“You just summon all the live information you need, divvy it up by circling what you want to share and crossing out what you don’t and control what others can see or even co-work with you in real time,” explained Vijay Mital, general manager of Microsoft’s Ambient Computing team. “Now you can finally involve others inside and outside your organization to help you get work done in the moment.”

Currently, the GigJam Invitation Preview is available for Windows and Mac OS X. Early access members can use the app with anyone, even colleagues that haven’t received an invitation, noted Mital. An iOS version of the app is in the works. Microsoft expects to release GigJam as part of Office 365 sometime later this year, he added.