The Outlook app for iOS and Android have had the ‘Focused Inbox’ feature for quite some time. The idea is to create a new section within the Inbox; an algorithm developed by Acompli – an email client acquired by Microsoft in 2014 – then highlights emails it deems important.
The goal is to filter out emails that aren’t necessarily spam, but can be ignored when you need to get some work done. So, the Focused Inbox section filters out newsletters, for example.
The algorithm works in mysterious ways, taking many factors into account. A key criterion to deem an email important is how much engagement the user has with the particular contact sending the email. If you often interact with the emails from your boss, they will be deemed important, for example.
It sounds awfully similar to how Google marks certain emails as important in Gmail. Perhaps it is, but now it’s in Outlook.
In the Wild
Microsoft has now started rolling out Focused Inbox to select users on the production build in limited testing.
The app version remains at v17.7903.40527.0 – the latest stable version – meaning that Microsoft remotely enables the feature, rather than as an update to the app.
Unfortunately, that makes it impossible to “force” an update – there is no update. Microsoft will enable the feature for random users, gather feedback, and add more users to the pool while ironing out any bugs.
Phased rollouts like this aren’t a new phenomenon – it’s something Google is infamous for – but Microsoft usually avoids them.
Windows Insiders, have had the pleasure of trying the feature in a similar way over the past few months.
Since not all Insiders got to try the feature, it would make sense for Microsoft to enable it for all in the Insider program now.
It would help the Mail team gather some feedback from Insiders who are willing to provide accurate feedback, rather than random people on production Windows 10.