Microsoft‘s Outlook mobile app, basically a rebranded app from newly acquired Accompli, is just starting to take root on Android and iOS. There is no rule, however, that says Microsoft can’t start dreaming up and working on the next e-mail killer. A hidden download page for a certain “Flow” app for the iPhone was just discovered, and with it a description of what Redmond might be planning for its next stab at bringing its own brand productivity and communication to mobile platforms that aren’t its own.
“Flow by Outlook”. That sounds pretty close to “Inbox by Gmail”. But while the latter is focused squarely on presenting traditional email in a different way, Microsoft’s flow might simply be using email as a jumping board. Or to be more precise, instead of phone numbers, Flow will let you start a conversation with anyone who has an email address.
It’s still email actually, or so the short description of Flow says. Everything it stored in your Outlook account, pretty much like how Gmail also keeps your Hangouts records. You can participate in conversations whether you’re in the Flow app or in Outlook. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re only talking about Flow conversations. The rest of your non-Flow email from Outlook will be invisible to Flow.
What makes Flow different from conventional email is that Microsoft is doing away with the formalities. No subject lines, no salutations, no signatures. Just conversations, pure and simple. Except it technically happens over email. It would have the same effect if you simply didn’t put a subject like, disabled signatures, and started yapping away. But Flow perhaps will make it feel more natural, less artificial. But it’s still really just email.
There is no word on when Flow by Outlook would actually take flesh on iOS, and whether it will also take flight in Android. Given Microsoft’s recent dance, that might be more probable than possible. It’s a curious way of sugarcoating, or masking, emails to make them look less daunting or less formal. But it’s all just email in the end.