We’ve learned a lot of things about our users over the past couple of months, but two of the most important things we’ve learned are:
1. Most of them use Microsoft Outlook.
2. A lot of them aren’t very happy with it.
And we don’t blame them. Microsoft Outlook is an expensive, out-dated system that many people use because they don’t think there isn’t a better option. But we’re here to tell you there is a much better option – allcal.
Don’t believe us? Well we’ve done our research and we know exactly how our startup company stacks up against a scheduling solution that has been in place for years. Can allcal be the answer to completely replace this system or are their parts from both solutions that make them indispensable?
Let’s take a closer look shall we – in our competitor edition of Microsoft Outlook vs allcal.
Round 1: Cost and Setup
Consumers are no stranger to having to pay fees for services that deliver high quality and offer a convenience for them, so the most logical place to start when comparing products is the price.
The allcal app is absolutely FREE for anyone to use and is available across all major platforms and devices. You can download the app from the App Store, Google Play Store and you can access allcal on the web too. Following the download, there is a simple login/registration process and then tada – you are now a new user of allcal!
So how much is Microsoft Outlook in comparison? It depends
Microsoft has a variety of options (all of which require a fee) for users to download the application to begin using it. The primary cost of downloading it will be about $110, but will be substantially higher if you purchase it along with Microsoft Office. If you purchase the complete Microsoft Office package, you have the option to pay for one individual or pay per user if you would like multiple people to have access to all these applications.
Unlike allcal, its main application is its software program and web application with a focus on email. There is an app for Outlook, but it is primarily optimized for the iPhone 5 and is not user friendly towards other devices. Additionally, in order to use the app a user must have iOS 6.0 or later and must have the latest update of Office 365 for business.
THE WINNER: ALLCAL
Round 2: Functionality
ALLCAL: Both of these scheduling solutions have a variety of functions that let users share calendars, plan meetings and coordinate tasks with others. But one of allcal’s best functions is it not only lets you share calendars, but individual events. These calendars and events are received from other users in the form of notifications (push notifications and notifications inside the app depending on your phone settings) so that the users will always be aware of any allcal activity.
Perhaps allcal’s greatest feature is the ability to update users when events or details of a calendar have been changed. This means that any user that is part of a shared calendar or event on allcal will automatically be notified of any time, date, or location change without them having to discover it on their own.
Furthermore, the chat function serves as an instant communication tool, replacing the need for email, where users can send messages to each other and share important information.
Finally, allcal has a public calendar database that sets it apart from any other calendar system. Here users have the ability to search through a multitude of public calendars which include sports, entertainment, music and more! The best part about public calendars is that any user has the option to create one and possesses the ability to add an entire calendar to their account or link individual events to another calendar.
MICROSOFT OUTLOOK: Outlook’s primary function is an email application with a few other features that help users create calendar appointments, schedule meetings, and coordinate tasks with individuals and groups.
- Calendar appointments
- Appointments are activities that you schedule in your calendar that don’t involve inviting other people or reserving resources, such as a conference room.
- By designating each appointment as busy, free, tentative, or out of office, other Outlook users know your availability.
- Scheduling meetings
- In Outlook, a meeting includes other people and can include resources, such as conference rooms. You’ll get responses to your meeting requests in your Inbox (notifications).
- Send a meeting request to set up a time to meet with others and to track who accepts the request (sharing an event & invites).
- Can cancel all future meetings in a series (changing the end date of a recurring event).
- Location – (allcal cannot check availability and reserve rooms)
- In the meeting request, type any information you want to share with the recipients (event description). You can also attach files (allcal can only attach images and cannot attach pictures to single events).
- Required to have Microsoft Outlook in order to coordinate meetings
- Create a Task
- Many people keep To Do lists — on paper, in a spreadsheet, or with a combination of paper and electronic methods. In Outlook, you can combine various lists into one, get reminders, and track task progress.
- Import Calendars
- Outlook gives users the ability to import calendars from an existing database so users won’t have to recreate those events or information. Although limited to the functionality of where the calendars came from, this could be a useful tool for users in the area of convenience.
Overall the functions of the two programs perform in very similar ways. They both give you the ability to share calendars, coordinate tasks and schedule meetings. Microsoft Outlook tends to go a little more in-depth with these features such as the ability to check someone’s availability, reserve a room/location, alter an individual event in a recurring series, create to-do lists and attach more than just pictures. It also has the ability to import calendars, which could be a big deal to many users who already have a calendar system in place with a large number of users or events. However, the linked calendar system and notification center of allcal, along with the public calendar database tend to set allcal apart from Outlook – and the fact that you must have the Outlook system installed on your computer in order to perform any of these tasks. In essence, what good are having all of these features when you can’t coordinate changes effectively and still have to rely on email or phone calls for updates? Moreover, allcal’s public calendar section adds a database of calendars that not only can be shared with co-workers, but with friends and family as well.
The winner: Allcal
Round 3: New features and reviews
Both allcal and Microsoft Outlook have recently added new features to make the systems more user friendly. Allcal’s newest version is equipped with functions that now let users add cover photos to their private calendars, use GPS for locations, set reminders for events and create recurring events. More importantly, allcal has a web app that can be used by anyone with internet access that has the same functionality as the phone app. This web app acts as an extension of the phone app and the databases are linked so once you login to the web app, any change that takes place on the web, automatically takes place on your phone as well. This makes it easy for people to make changes to their calendars no matter where they are. Whether at a desktop or mobile device, allcal insures users they will always be able to perform tasks on the go.Outlook 2013 has introduced its fair share of new features as well. These new features include People Card, Site Mailboxes and a weather function.
- People Card
- Site Mailboxes
As far as the reviews, Microsoft Outlook 2013 and the Outlook Web Access app share the same two-star rating. Most users find the program difficult to use, incompatible with some devices and a downgrade from its previous versions. This is evidenced by the plethora of video tutorials that are offered on the Microsoft website and speaks volumes about a system that has been running for years. Many users aren’t thrilled about Outlook’s new interface and only time will tell if Microsoft makes adjustments in regards to the concerns of many of its user base.
Comparatively, although allcal has only been out for a period of six months and has no current ratings, it does have favorable reviews. Aside from the earliest review which occurred in May when the app was first being developed, the other reviews have been very favorable. Users see utility in the app’s functions and recognize its usefulness, even in the beta stages. Obviously, this app isn’t anywhere near its true potential and will undoubtedly reach its peak in the years to come.
The winner: Allcal
This article may be a little -teensy bit- biased, but we truly believe in our app and we even did our research to prove it!