Microsoft is doubling down on Cortana, giving the digital assistant a host of new capabilities to help people manage their schedules and communications at the office throughout the day.
During the company’s annual Ignite conference, Microsoft officially announced a new feature called Play My Emails for Outlook on iOS. The new feature uses Cortana to intelligently read out all your emails, so you can catch up with your inbox while you are driving or simply have your hands busy with other things. The feature will also offer a “masculine” alternative to Cortana’s default voice option.
Cortana can also send a daily briefing email that gives users a rundown of their meetings for the day, tasks they need to accomplish, and more. Cortana can pull information from past conversations, such as specific things users promised to do, and make it easier to mark jobs as completed or book focus time to get finish them off.
Additionally, a new feature in preview called Scheduler allows Cortana to look at calendars, find or propose available times for meetings, and manage meeting details. Once everyone agrees on a time, Cortana can book a meeting room, add call-in details and send a calendar invite from the meeting organizer.
“This has been in various beta testings for I think over two years, maybe three years — with a lot of enterprise partners and customers — to try to really learn step by step how to make this great. And we’re excited to bring it out to production now,” said Microsoft VP Andrew Shuman.
These upgrades were among a flood of announcements shared on the first day of Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Changes announced today are intended to enhance on-the-go mobile experiences for Microsoft Outlook’s 100 million monthly active users.