Today, Microsoft announced a new Android Wear version of its mobile Outlook mail and calendar app. This isn't just a way to check emails or look at your schedule by tapping your wrist. Microsoft designed this version of Outlook to be a watchface, so it can stay surfaced on your smartwatch screen at all times. Features include getting a glance at your daily events, seeing inbox notifications, and interacting with messages as you would on an Android phone from the smartwatch's default screen.
Microsoft first brought Outlook to wearables with an Apple Watch version last August. That watchOS-tailored software is quite limited, however, as Microsoft can't take advantage of certain core Apple Watch features and screen real estate. With Android Wear, the company has quite a bit more leeway. Because it's a watchface and not just a smartwatch app, the clock stays front and center at all times.
The Outlook watchface is also a glimpse into Microsoft's ultimate plans for a unified productivity app. The company acquired email app Acompli, calendar app Sunrise, and to-do list app Wunderlist over the last two years. Acompli became the new mobile Outlook, while the other two apps are being slowly merged into Outlook to make it a kind of one-stop shop for events, messages, and daily tasks. Microsoft announced in October it would eventually shut Sunrise down, and the date was recently set for August 31st. So Microsoft has grand plans for Outlook, and this new Android Wear watchface shows just how useful it hopes the software can be beyond the desktop.