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Updated app for Android delivers revamped UI and new features

Microsoft's Outlook for Android has been given a facelift, including an entirely new user interface and other features that help push the app into the same realm as its Windows 8 and web counterparts.

The new look comes with accessories, including conversation threading, filters for unread and flagged mail, and the ability to mark messages as junk.

Since Google's mobile operating system doesn't consistently support Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync technology, the Redmond-based firm is instead focusing on an entirely separate Android app.

In December 2012, Google said it would drop support for Exchange ActiveSync as of 31 January, 2013, meaning new users would not be given the option to use Google Sync. Amidst backlash, Google pushed that until July.

"We believe that the best mobile experience is enabled through Exchange ActiveSync — which provides a rich, powerful, network-optimized experience for Windows Phone, iOS and other mobile devices," Senior Program Manager Lead Steve Kafka wrote in a blog post. "However, native support for Exchange ActiveSync on Android devices varies significantly and so we build a separate app to ensure as many people as possible can have a great experience across all their devices."

According to the Google Play store's average user ratings, which fall just above 2.5 stars, the Android app hasn't offered that great an experience. The update, though, seemed to offer a sort of rainbow after the storm, according to a number of users.

"Well done," Scott Davies wrote under his five-star rating. "[It's] so much better after this update."

Mark Brayer and his Samsung Galaxy S are happy with the new version, but still want more.

"Although far better than previous version the lack of simple features such as font sizes, day/night mode and access to deeper mail settings shows why [Microsoft] is still behind with mobile development," he wrote in a three-star review. "You'd think the largest software company would be at leading edge rather than seemingly always behind."

Still others, like Steven Thompson, are completely dissatisfied with the application, and are ready to drop it for another mobile email client.

"Hotmail app was much better, but forced over after updating," he wrote, giving the Outlook application one measly star. "Doesn't appear to be [any way] to add multiple Hotmail accounts like the old Hotmail version of this app."

The most common complaint, based on about 50 reviews: the font size is too big, with no option to reduce it.

Microsoft's free Internet email service launched in the summer of 2012, and it gained 25 million active users in just under four months.