Microsoft’s Cortana will soon read emails on Outlook for iOS and Android_1

Microsoft previously announced that they see the future of Cortana as a conversational “personal productivity assistant”.


There can be a case made that Google and Amazon’s digital assistants’ current mandate is too broad. Digital assistants are still in their infancy, and already most users only know a fraction of what they can do.

The advancement of voice assistants


We have assistants capable of some truly amazing things but mostly only being used for a handful of use cases. As a result, you have development teams adding lots of functions that probably aren’t being used that much.


Microsoft decided some time back to go back to the drawing board. In fact, almost two years ago, Microsoft first started talking about integrating Cortana with Outlook.


They may have stumbled onto a winning idea; AI is perfectly suited to helping humans managing their inboxes. More importantly, email is one of the most significant and most stress-inducing pain points for employees of every ilk.


Microsoft will be adding Cortana to the US version of the Outlook app for iOS first, and Android should see Cortana added by the second quarter of 2020.


Also read – Voice assistant technology is in danger of trying to be too human

What does this mean?


Cortana’s integration into Outlook will be focused on giving users more options in managing their mails on the go. Furthermore, Cortana will be able to respond to a ‘Play My Emails’ command.


This will let Cortana read you your emails. That’s not all though; you’ll actually be able to give voice commands while the message is being read which will let you flag or archive it.


Microsoft added a masculine voice and have worked on upgrading the Neural Text to Speech that powers Cortana’s voices, believing that the upgrades will make Cortana’s speech sound more natural.

What else can Cortana do?


Cortana will also be able to create a daily briefing email based on upcoming events from your Office 360 account.


However, for anyone who’s having to arrange lots of meetings, Cortana’s new scheduler feature could be the most useful of its applications in Outlook.


You’ll be able to add Cortana to your meeting request, letting the AI know when, where and for how long you’d like to have the meeting.


Cortana will then be able to figure out when all the participants have free time and send options for meeting times to invitees; and finally, send the invite out once everyone is happy with all the details.


Going forward, this super-specific use of AI to tackle common problems will become more frequent.


It’s a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to its AI projects that the Cortana team moved out of the AI research division and into its experiences and devices team.


Also read – Google Assistant tops 2019 digital assistance IQ test