OneDrive Improved File Syncing, Activity Feed, Office Lens, Collaborating in Office 365

New capabilities in OneDrive for Business improve the ability to sync, share and collaborate on files in Office 365. Office Insider Preview Fast ring build for iOS 9iPhone and iPad).

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OneDrive users can now sync SharePoint Online team sites including files used inside Microsoft Teams and OneDrive folders shared by others across PC and Mac platforms. Office 365 files work just as well as those stored on a PC or Mac — even offline.

This roll out is part of the January update to Office 365 include enhancements to OneDrive for commercial customers and a new Activity feed within the Office apps, Microsoft StaffHub for consumers who store documents on OneDrive.

Office Lens — a pocket scanner for digitizing notes from whiteboards or blackboards is now integrated into the camera experience in Word and PowerPoint on Android, allowing users to capture, crop, straighten and enhance content from whiteboards.

Additionally, the Office Insider program is now available for iPhone and iPad, providing early access to builds of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Here's what's new in this update:

OneDrive for Business customers using latest client can now sync SharePoint Online team sites including files used inside Microsoft Teams and OneDrive for Business shared folders, across PC and Mac. When on the web, a simplified sharing experience let you specify scope and duration for sharing permissions.

Additionally, a new standalone Mac client makes it easier to deploy and manage OneDrive Mac client outside of the App Store. This new client allows admins to control features like enabling sync status as well as visual overlays in Finder, adding a Finder shortcut for OneDrive, and the ability to set up OneDrive sync to run at sign in.

This latest client also has built-in multi-language support.

And, the new OneDrive admin center rolled out today controls how and from where a user will access the files in OneDrive—that is device, location and app. Once deployed to your tenant, all tenant and SharePoint admins will have permissions to access the OneDrive admin center at admin.onedrive.com.

Activity center in the latest OneDrive sync client for Windows and Mac provide detailed visibility to most recent sync activity and status. Simply click OneDrive icon in the system tray on PC or Finder on Mac to see file sync status and activity.

In the screenshot below, you can see setting up syncing of a SharePoint Online team site to OneDrive on a Windows desktop.

Syncing SharePoint sites and OneDrive for Business shared folders

Syncing SharePoint sites and OneDrive for Business shared folders

A new onboarding experience guide new OneDrive users through common activities like uploading documents, using the mobile app and collaborating with others.

The simplified sharing pane allow users to easily modify the scope of their sharing and explicitly calls, including the ability to set an expiration duration on anonymous guest links.

OneDrive Simplified sharing options

OneDrive Simplified sharing options

Streamlined guest access provides external users [with no Office 365 or Microsoft account] attempting to access a shared file that requires authentication a much-simplified account setup process for quick acces to these files.

Activity feed, which is available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint for documents stored on SharePoint or OneDrive for Business on Windows is now available to consumers on Windows desktop for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program. The Activity feed provides access to a full history of document changes, including prior versions.

OneDrive Activity Feed

OneDrive Activity Feed

Office Lens is now integrates directly into the camera capture experience in Word and PowerPoint on Android—letting you now directly capture, crop, straighten and enhance pictures of whiteboards from within Word and PowerPoint

The team note, later in the future, Lens will integrate into Excel as well with additional capabilities, such as document capture, Optical Character Recognition (making handwritten text within captured searchable).

The GIF below shows the Office Lens functionality in PowerPoint on Android.

Office Lens in Word and PowerPoint on Android

Office Lens in Word and PowerPoint on Android

The Office Insider program leveraging Apple's TestFlight program expands to iPhone and iPad to offer early access builds of Word, Excel and PowerPoint at the Insider Fast level.

Microsoft StaffHub is generally available today, will soon integrate with Kronos (a leading workforce management solution). With Microsoft StaffHub, "managers can easily create schedules, staff can easily view shift information and more."

StaffHub is enabled today for Office 365 subscribers with a K1, E1, E3 or E5 plan including Education version. Team managers can sign in at staffhub.ms, and employees can download the app on iOS or Android.

In the screenshot below, a StaffHub shift schedule is being shown, along with an employee's view of their own shift schedule in the StaffHub mobile app:

Microsoft StaffHub Shift Schedule

Microsoft StaffHub Shift Schedule

Here's a look at other new features included:

  • Home—Admin center dashboard will soon show recent Office 365 Message Center posts and usage reporting related to OneDrive.
  • Sharing—This section helps you gain control over how and with whom your users are sharing information. Includes controlling the use of external sharing and anonymous links, as well as limiting which external domains users can share with.
  • Sync—You now can block syncing of specific file types and deny syncing to non-domain joined PCs.
  • Storage—Where you can easily set default storage limits and document retention durations.
  • Device access—This gives you control over how and from where a user can access their files. Includes allow/deny access from personal devices or specific networks as well as rich Mobile Application Management Intune policies for iOS and Android.
  • Compliance—Offers quick links to the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center for key scenarios like auditing, data loss prevention, retention and eDiscovery.
  • Notification—Ability to turn on/off various notifications for your tenant.
New OneDrive Sharing Experience

New OneDrive Sharing Experience

Finally, Focused Inbox will be available in Outlook Mail on Windows 10 devices from February.

In a update on its plan, Microsoft posted, "For Outlook.com users, the rollout to the web is continuing, and should be complete for all users "by April 2017." Microsoft added: "All supported Outlook.com account [sic] will be able to see Focused Inbox in the Mail app for Windows 10 starting in February 2017." The update makes no distinction between the app on PCs and phones, so it seems likely that both sets of devices will see the feature being added from next month."

Microsoft said, "Focused Inbox will not be delivered to Outlook for Mac 2011, or the perpetual versions of Outlook 2013 for Windows and Outlook 2016 for Windows."

For commercial Office 365 customers who use Outlook 2016, Microsoft said: "While we have completed the Focused Inbox feature, we still have some work to complete to deliver the update to Outlook 2016 for Windows. We will update this blog again when we have an updated launch date."

Focused Inbox Timeline for Office 365 commercial

Outlook Groups will soon get "Send as" feature, meaning many Exchange customers now are one step closer to turning their emails into a great customer support solution.

The new 'Send as' and 'Send on behalf of' feature, members of the group can respond to conversations using the shared identity of the Group instead of their individual personal identity, writes the team. This will mean group members won't lose the personal, individual touch which is always needed in business.

"If your business is looking for a lightweight, email-centric customer support solution, you're in luck. This feature might be what you need. The consistent use of a single email address will help your customers develop recognition and trust—ensuring that your email messages are seen."

"This feature is particularly helpful in scenarios where you want to set up a group to connect with external customers. Collective knowledge of group helps resolve those customer inquiries faster and everyone on the team benefits from shared knowledge of the Group. Like other groups in Outlook, members can read all messages sent to the group. But with this feature turned on, responses look like they come from the group rather than the individual," explains Exchange team.