Add-ins were first announced back at Microsoft’s build conference in April, as a way to power up Microsoft’s Office suite with a cross-platform API.
For example, you could create a calendar reminder to catch a Uber ride on the desktop version of Outlook and then have that reminder show up on your iPhone when the time arrived.
Some other examples include paying for a dinner tab right from your inbox using PayPal, clipping messages to Evernote, scheduling emails via Boomerang, automating a myriad of tasks using IFTTT, inserting restaurant details via Yelp, and creating to-do lists with Wunderlist.
Uber, PayPal, Evernote and Boomerang are already available to Outlook 2013 and Office 365 users, and will be coming to the revamped Outlook.com “within the next month”. IFTTT is available for Office 365 users and will be coming soon to the new Outlook.com, while Yelp and Wunderlist are simply stated to be “coming soon.”
Opening up Outlook to third-party features is a welcome move; the expanded functionality of add-ins could help it become a more enticing offer for power users versus Gmail , which is mostly limited to proprietary features and services.