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Microsoft is putting more ads in Outlook on iOS and Android

Microsoft is putting more ads in Outlook on iOS and Android


Free users can avoid most of them by using Focused Inbox

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has started putting more ads in Outlook mobile for iOS and Android in recent months.

The Outlook mobile app gives users two options for organizing their inbox: a single inbox with everything in it or a tabbed inbox split into two categories — “focused” with important mail and “Other” with all the rest. Previously, Microsoft only put ads in the “Other” tab for free users, but it’s now adding them to the single-inbox mode, too.

An ad inside Outlook mobile on iOS.
An ad inside Outlook mobile on iOS.
Image: James Vincent / The Verge

The change has been rolling out over the past few months and essentially means Microsoft is making it harder for free users to avoid ads in Outlook mobile. Whatever inbox mode you use, there’ll be ads somewhere in the mix — either at the top of your Other tab or the top of your regular inbox. Indeed, the only way to now avoid ads in Outlook mobile is to pay for a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Microsoft confirmed the change to The Verge. “For free users of Outlook, ads are shown in their inbox and they can choose to enable the ‘Focused inbox’ feature if they would like to see ads only in the ‘Other’ inbox,” says Microsoft spokesperson Caitlin Roulston in a statement.

The ads appear at the top of an inbox and look confusingly like real emails, similar to how both Microsoft and Google display ads inside the web versions of Outlook and Gmail. You can swipe to delete the email-like ads, but they’ll soon reappear, and opening one will display advertising content within an in-app browser.

Nobody likes ads, and Outlook mobile users have left numerous one-star review complaints for the app on Apple’s App Store. Some on Twitter and Reddit have also been expressing their frustration over more ads appearing in Outlook mobile, but the only way to now avoid them fully is by subscribing to Microsoft 365.