The Microsoft AI assistant, Cortana, previously a central element of Windows, is spreading its wings to work as assistive technology in a number of Microsoft apps, particularly in Outlook where two new features are available, Play My Emails and the Daily Briefing.
The Daily Briefing is a once-a-day email created for you by Office on the basis of the information that Microsoft 365/office holds on you. It will tell you what meetings you have on that day, provide you with the documentation you need, any draft presentations you’ve made, and so on. It will also remind you of any deadlines et cetera on your to-do list and offer you links to any Teams meetings you ought to be in.
Play My Emails is a feature that reads your emails to you and allows you to orally instruct your device what you want done with it, whether that is to archive it, send a reply, and so forth. This feature can now be used with multiple accounts, through headphones, through your vehicle’s smart system, and more. You can tell the application to reduce emails from a particular person, on a specific topic, or from a particular timeframe.
The mobile Teams app also now has Cortana available (click the microphone button in the app), allowing you to join meetings, call contacts, initiate file sharing, move across channels, and so on.
Finally, Cortana’s functionality has also been proved in Windows 10, acting as an app rather than as an integral element of Windows. The app can now be opened by speaking its name and covers a plethora of functions, for example, “show me recent sales figures” will bring up all the documents relevant to your search. The app can also be used to dictate emails, be alerted to meetings and deadlines, check your schedule, and so forth. Some of these features were originally available when Cortana was first introduced in Windows 10, were removed when it became an app, and now they have been reinstated.
Although it seems that Microsoft has tacitly acknowledged that Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can’t be caught in terms of ubiquity in the personal assistant field, they appear still to be determined to keep on improving their in-house offering.