Business Columns & Blogs

Apps that support a ‘unified’ inbox

Q: Since Outlook for Android doesn’t offer text formatting for Microsoft mail accounts, what other email apps do?

A: Microsoft’s Outlook app for Android puts its focus more on keeping up with a user’s inbox and schedule and less on mobile message composition. But if this is a personal mail account or your employer does not require you to use the official Outlook app for Android, consider sending and receiving your messages in another program. Several alternative apps offer text formatting and support a “unified” inbox‚ a sort of mail station for multiple services.

If you are using an Android device, you probably already have Google’s own Gmail software installed. The current version of the Gmail app includes text-formatting options, and it allows you to add Outlook, Hotmail, Live, Office 365 and Exchange accounts to use right alongside your Gmail account. Yahoo Mail and other services can be added to the Gmail app, too.

To make the move, open Gmail on your Android device and tap the menu button in the upper-left corner. When the menu pane opens, tap the small black triangle next to your existing user name and then tap Add Account. On the “Set up email” screen that appears, select the service you would like to add: Outlook, Hotmail and so on.

The setup screens guide you through entering your user name and password for your Microsoft mail account. You may need to add a verification code if you have added extra security to your account, but when you are done, you should be able to read, write and format messages within the Gmail app but send them from your Microsoft mail address.

If you do not use Gmail or do not care for the app, you can find other unified mailbox apps with more visual features in the Google Play store. VMWare Boxer, myMail and TypeApp are some to consider.

With a swipe, your dock reappears

Q: I just upgraded my iPad to iOS 11, and while I liked dragging my favorites into the little bar of apps across the bottom of the screen, the bar itself doesn’t stay there consistently. Why?

A: The new “dock” in Apple’s latest version of its mobile software is similar to the tool bar that has been a part of its Mac operating system for years. Like the desktop version, the iOS 11 dock is designed to hide when you do not need it. The auto-hide behavior in macOS is optional and can be changed in the System Preferences, but the iOS 11 dock is designed to disappear to minimize screen clutter when you open an app on the iPad.

However, if you want the dock back because you want to open (or switch to) another app without having to press the iPad’s home button to go back to the Home screen, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen to make the dock reappear. You can then tap an app in the dock to open that program.

To switch between other running apps, drag your finger up from the bottom of the screen when the dock is showing. You then see small preview windows of open apps and the iOS 11 Control Center, a panel of icons that serve as shortcuts to common system settings. Swipe the screen to the left or the right to see all the open app windows. (You can also double-click the home button to see this “app-switcher” screen.)

You can switch to another app by tapping its preview window. And, if an app is frozen or misbehaving, you can force it to close by dragging its preview window off the top of the screen.