Microsoft has announced the long-anticipated retirement of the OWA mobile apps for iOS and Android operating systems. The advice from Microsoft is to use Outlook for iOS/Android. When Outlook was released in January 2015 it was announced that the new app would replace the OWA apps at some point in the future. It seems we have finally reached that point just over three years later.

The OWA apps will be removed from the Apple and Google app stores in April 2018. Users of the OWA apps will start to see an in-app notification letting them know about the retirement of the OWA app, and advising them to install Outlook instead. On May 15th, 2018, the OWA apps will stop working.

The news has been met with some complaints from users who still rely on the OWA apps for features that Outlook for iOS/Android still does not support. Two key features are:

  • Support for opening shared mailboxes
  • Support for approving/rejecting moderated transport messages

Although shared/delegate calendar access has been available in Outlook iOS/Android for some time now, shared mailbox access is still not there. Microsoft says that shared mailbox access will be coming to Outlook “by the end of 2018“. That still leaves a potential gap of several months, during which users will need to use OWA through their mobile web browser to access shared mailboxes. While it would be nice to maintain the OWA app until all functionality has been added to Outlook, developer time is not an unlimited resource, and it’s probably best to focus all efforts on improving the Outlook app.

If you still have OWA app users in your Office 365 environment, Microsoft will be posting a notice to your Message Center advising of the retirement of the apps.

For on-premises Exchange organizations, you can identity OWA app users with the following PowerShell command in the Exchange Management Shell:

[PS] C:\>Get-MobileDevice -OWAforDevices

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for Practical365.com.

Comments

  1. Peter Voorthuijsen

    And still we’re waiting for the Shared Mailbox support… “By the end of 2018”, umm…

  2. Dan Pusateri

    Hi,

    We are struggling with our device approval process. As far as I can tell it is impossible to distinguish a personal device from an institutional device when the approval is sent. There is nothing in the request to tell us that the device is iPhone or iPad that we have issued or it is their personal device. We only allow our own institutional devices to have Exchange setup. Any way to come at this that I’m not seeing?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  3. John

    It’s almost the end of 2018. Any updates on if they are still planning to add this by the end of the year?

  4. Tech365man

    Very frustrating. However the native Apple Calendar app allows a shared calendar or any other calendar in Office 365 that you have permissions to to be added. Easy. Why Microsoft can’t do that is quite unknown. What I did was go to Calendar, Calendars, Add Calendar, enter the email address for the calendar, Done.

  5. Brian Parker

    So the Outlook ios app must now support s/mime since they are withdrawing OWA? Or not, eh?

    1. Paul Cunningham

      Doesn’t seem to support it right now.

      Future plans? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Doesn’t seem to be on the public roadmap.

      1. Brian Parker

        I know Paul, just sarcastically venting my frustration. I still can’t believe s/mime isn’t in an “enterprise” app. Causes me a lot of trouble explaining it to impatient executives.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really value your work, although since we are on-premises due to legal constaints the value has diminished a bit since your refocus to the cloud.
        Cheers!

  6. SC

    Is Microsoft going to fix the bugs introduced on the last update?
    1. If you have more than 3 emails to/from a contact , you will not see any data from the Global Address Boook such as position, department or PHONE NUMBER. If you have less than 3 emails to the contact, you can see the phone number and other fields.
    2. The inability to sort by date or by last name
    3. The extremely poor search focus – searching for a person named “PAMela” should not render every email with the word “sPAM” obscuring the actual email to and from “pamela” (last name isn’t better – any/all email with an attachment that contains the name will surface blocking the relevant email actually to/from the contact

    It is unfathomable how one can use Outlook after these changes. Where is the QC? How could anyone have released such garbage?

  7. GettnBetter

    I struggle with this Outlook app. It is cumbersome and focused view often hides new e-mails. Often times I am waiting for the app, it’s quite slow. I find the interface a bit littered with command tabs. Users prefer to use their traditional device’s calendar sometimes and notes are simply no longer supported which is a deal breaker in most cases. Also, this convoluted app still requires connecting the mobile via it’s native activesync or enterprise contacts from Exchange are not applied to incoming text and phone calls. So in effect this adds two separate remote connections for every device. Double trouble

    I am still unable to view all my mail via this App, I have to revert to OWA which in 2013/16 has a responsive design so it’s friendly with nearly all devices and allows full access to all aspects of Exchange including archive and public folders.

    The Outlook app seems like an extra appendage rather than a solution at the moment. Hopefully some of these issues will be addressed.

    1. Paul Cunningham

      You can sync contacts from an Outlook account to your phone. It’s an option in the settings of each account you add to the Outlook app.

      Not sure about the hidden emails you mentioned. That isn’t a problem I’ve noticed, and I use this app every day.

  8. Lars Panzerbjrn

    I like the functionality of the Outlook app, but it is so ugly I can’t bring myself to use it.
    Maybe when MS learn how to make a dark theme…

  9. Tim Wardlow

    I understand the Outlook for iOS app is still not available for Government tenants. Do you have any information on that? When it might be available?

    1. Paul Cunningham

      On the Office roadmap site search for “Feature ID: 24150” or “Outlook for iOS and Android in GCC” and they have it listed as due in April of 2018. All dates subject to change of course. I know nothing more than what’s on the roadmap, sorry.

  10. Joshua Bines

    “shared mailbox access is still not there”

    Shared mailboxes using Imap seems to work well? But requires a number of extra steps for users which is a downside

    1. Paul Cunningham

      If you’re logging on directly using IMAP, that means you’ve enabled the account and are logging in with the shared mailbox’s username/password? I don’t know if that strictly adheres to the licensing for EXO/O365 but I’ll leave that up to you to make a decision. Either way, it’s not very secure and auditable (sharing credentials, etc).

      1. Leo

        I think he meant using as login the your.email@company.com/yoursharedmail (without the at) and using your personal password. And you need the right permissions. That way, you don’t share any credentials 🙂

        Sorry for my poor English, I’m french.

  11. Allan Drummy

    Hi, so will the oulook mobile app now handle \ work with the MSEXCHANGE Approval Assistant requests or will we no longer have a way to deal with approvals when out of the office? Thanks.

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