Microsoft is continuing its A.I. push. By further integrating artificial intelligence into its Microsoft 365 applications including its Office suite products such as Outlook and Excel — the company wants to offload some of the heavy human lifting to its Cortana digital smart assistant to help you stay productive.
By bringing its A.I. smarts to Outlook on iOS, Microsoft is showing how you can truly go hands-free and eyes-free and still stay on top of your email. With the launch of a new Play My Emails feature, Outlook users on iPhone and iPad will be able to have Cortana read out emails using natural language technology. For commuters, this feature can save you time during your morning and evening commute, as Cortana will be able to read your email messages to you while you’re driving, a move that places Microsoft’s digital assistant in direct competition with music and audiobooks for your ear time.
he feature, which Microsoft is calling Play My Emails, will also offer a “masculine” alternative to Cortana’s default voice option. (It’s not clear if and when this will be offered on other platforms.) And, starting next month, Outlook will introduce a Cortana-powered “briefing” email that summarizes your meetings and any documents you’ll need that day.
“With a natural voice, intelligent readout, and language recognition, Cortana can read out your new emails and share changes to your day so you can catch up and act on emails even when your hands are busy with other things,” Microsoft said of the feature in a blog post. Cortana for iOS is rolling out today, and an Android launch is planned for Spring 2020. To make Cortana sound more natural and suite your style, Microsoft also announced a new masculine voice option for its digital assistant alongside the rollout of the Play My Emails feature.
Cortana is also getting a huge presence inside Excel. In the latest test build of Office for Insiders, you can now leverage Cortana to make sense of your data. Rather than plug in complex formulas or generate graphs, you can just ask Cortana questions about the information in the spreadsheet using natural language queries.