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Outlook App vs Apple Mail App - What's the difference?

Blog

Emily Keeling

Marketing Manager

In short:

Apple Mail has been the go-to email app for Apple users for its integration with the Apple ecosystem and its simplicity.

Microsoft Outlook has been the standard choice for professionals worldwide, as part of the Microsoft 365 stack of apps. It offers seamless integration with other Microsoft 365 apps and a load of features.

 

Both the Outlook app and native mail apps such as Apple Mail appear to be apps that simply allow you to access your emails on your phone. They’re both widely used by both businesses and individuals, with the key difference being that the Apple Mail app is a free email client that comes installed with the macOS, while the Outlook app is part of Microsoft Office. Both apps support POP, IMAP (Exchange, Outlook.com, Office 365, etc), and SMTP email servers, but Outlook is mainly used for Exchange server and Office 365.

But once you delve deeper, there is one that we would recommend to our clients, and one that we suggest they avoid.

 

Data privacy

When using Apple Mail, all emails, contacts, and calendar data synchronises with the Mail app. This may seem like a good thing, but this could potentially lead to a data breach. When a 3rd party app requests contacts and calendar appointments, the user grants full permission to upload your company’s global address list. So, all employee names, email addresses, and phone numbers are exposed to various 3rd party apps.

When a user connects to Office 365 via the Outlook app, all emails, contacts, and calendar appointments are kept inside the app. The data isn’t synced with their regular phone contacts, and other apps are denied access. This keeps the data secure and doesn’t share masses of data with companies like Meta, Google, or Slack.

 

Attachments

Email attachments gathered from the Mail App are stored within the Apple Files app, whereas Outlook stores files within the app itself. This means in the event of an employee departure, the business can erase all emails, contacts, calendar appointments, and attachments in one go, reassured that there aren’t any private files stored elsewhere. This maintains security and ensures that all confidential data is removed, simplifying endpoint management.

 

Integration

It’s true, the native mail apps typically integrate with other apps more effectively, however Apple Mail does not integrate with the reminder and notes native apps. It also doesn’t integrate with third parties. Outlook seamlessly integrates with the Office 365 stack, as well as Teams calendar invites, which offers a great user experience.

 

Unified inbox

On Apple Mail, you can view emails across a range of email providers - including iCloud, Exchange, Outlook, Google, Yahoo!, Aol., - so you can view emails across a range of addresses in one spot. Outlook only allows Microsoft hosted email addresses to be accessed, so emails to a Google account, for example, can’t be integrated.

 

Cross-platform versatility

It’s really easy to access your Outlook email accounts. You can use the web, or apps across a range of devices, no matter the make of the device. All you need is your email address and password, plus access to your authenticator app for your MFA. Apple Mail can only be accessed on an Apple device.

 

Security

Outlook automatically filters out emails it detects to be spam, including phishing emails. If something slips through the net, you can quickly mark an email as spam or phishing. Outlook also has built-in malware scanning, a malicious link identifier, and a virus scanner. Microsoft is pushing MFA, which adds an extra layer of security to Outlook. Overall, it is one of the most secure email services available.

As mentioned above, the data sharing and third-party integrations impact the overall security of the Apple Mail app. However, you can also opt-in to junk filtering and ‘Protect Mail Activity’ which protects against phishing attacks.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Outlook has been introducing AI-run features over the last few years, including focused mailboxes which show you emails that Outlook thinks you’d find the most important. There’s also a virtual assistant that can help you schedule meetings in groups, helping you to avoid calendar conflicts. The virtual assistant can also reply to emails, or draft the perfect response for you, and schedule tasks based on your inbox. Outlook also reminds you of meetings, or to attach a file if you’ve mentioned an attachment in the body of an email.

Apple Mail relies on 3rd party integration for artificial intelligence, rather than offering anything comprehensive in the app itself. Tools like Mailbutler, Grammarly, BlueMail, and Clean Email either plug-in to the Apple Mail app or work alongside it to help you effectively manage your emails with AI.

 

Additional features

Apple Mail has many additional features that enhance the user experience. You can make up to 100 people VIPs, and any email from a VIP goes into a filtered mailbox to show you the emails you care about the most. You can also set custom notifications for VIP email alerts, so important emails don’t get lost within flurries of notifications.

Another way you can easily spot important emails is by flagging them as important. On Apple Mail, you can change the colour of the flags so you can categorise your emails and immediately find what you’re looking for.

Another huge bonus for Apple Mail – it’s completely free, with no need for licenses.

Outlook also has a bunch of additional features, with the main one being a built-in calendar within the app. This integrates with meeting invites so keep you up to date.

Outlook also allows users to customise the appearance of the app, including changing the colour and applying themes. This can be purely for aesthetic reasons or to improve accessibility.

Finally, you can add complex rules to help you to manage and automate tasks on Outlook, saving valuable time. Rules are applied to incoming messages to quickly organise your mailbox and filter out any irrelevant mail.

 

Final thoughts

Both Outlook and native apps like Apple Mail both have their pros and cons. But as a security-first MSP, we only recommend using the Outlook app to manage your emails on your phone, due to the much higher level of security and data privacy.