Since launching a quick-messaging app called "Send" for iPhone users in July, Microsoft said users have been asking for the feature to be available more broadly. Based on such feedback, the company announced today that it is making a preview version of Send available for Android 4.2 and up (pictured).
Developed by Microsoft's Garage idea factory, Send is designed for Office 365 mobile enterprise users of Outlook e-mail. The app offers the quick communications capabilities of text messaging, but -- because it is based on Outlook -- allows users to easily access conversations later like they can with e-mail.
In addition to bringing Send to the Android mobile OS, Microsoft is also expanding its availability to other regions. Previously available only in the U.S. and Canada, Send is now available in the iPhone and Android app stores for users in the U.K., Brazil and Denmark.
'Improving Communication Flow'
Noting that there has been a great response since Send for iPhone was released, Microsoft told users in a blog post today that "we have been listening closely to your feedback and opinions, and have responded by making the app even more useful for you." Among some of the features Redmond has added since July is the ability to delete conversations and add people to conversations.
Other updates have enabled users to send direct messages to individuals from group conversations, share their locations with others, make phone calls and share GIFs.
Microsoft described Send as "the app that feels like texting and works like e-mail." The company said the app has been adopted by, among others, universities and organizations with mobile workforces.
"We've heard the app is improving communication flow around offices, campuses and other workplaces, because it's based on a universal platform that everyone has access to -- e-mail," according to the blog post. Send is a "much-needed alternative to the consumer chat applications that can find their way into an organization," Microsoft noted.
Windows Version Coming Next
Microsoft is now working on a version of Send for Windows phones, and continues to solicit feedback from users via its comments community on UserVoice.
Demand for mobile apps continues to grow rapidly, especially among business users. The analyst firm Gartner Inc. recently reported that "employees in today's digital workplace use an average of three different devices in their daily routine, which will increase to five or six devices as technologies such as wearable devices and the Internet of Things eventually become mainstream."
Especially as companies enable employees to participate in BYOD (bring-your-own-device) programs and even choose the apps they use for handling work tasks, developers are feeling ever more pressure to "develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames," Gartner noted.
Research released this summer by the Pew Research Center found that 36 percent of smartphone owners use some kind of messaging app and usage is especially high (49 percent) among 18 to 29 year olds. In addition to reducing SMS and data demands, such apps also "offer a more private kind of social interaction than traditional social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter," Pew said.