I have been helping a company move to Office 365 and one of the questions was which is better? Native email or Microsoft Outlook? I think the answer is Microsoft Outlook.
Why? For many reasons. Outlook is better integrated and you don’t have to shift between several applications to see your data. Yes it doesn’t allow you to add a contact like the native app does, but it also offers many features the native app doesn’t. What is even better is Microsoft seems to sincerely want to improve the app and even solicits feedback and feature requests. I believe this is a change in Microsoft finally listening to its customers.
Another strong reason to use Outlook is the fact that is supports the most common things people want to do in email. It allows people to view PDFs inline, and also share information with other programs like Word, Excel and Powerpoint. This is a great help to those on the go. While I don’t use these programs myself, many business people do and find them to be useful. So for a business, it makes sense to go with Office 365 on an iPad.
If you didn’t use the office applications, you could certainly buy third-party stuff that would do many of the same things. The problem is that third-party companies sometimes drop support, go out of business, and many other problems with long-term support. So it becomes kind of dangerous game to not use the vendor supplied apps for compatibility and troubleshooting reasons.
There are many fine third-party apps that are in some ways better than Office 365. However, given that most companies don’t have experienced iOS IT staff, using the Microsoft apps makes more sense. I think Microsoft became and stays popular due to more people not wanting to be retrained or learn anything new, than it being the best option.
However in this case, Office 365 is a great choice for small and mid-sized companies.