Microsoft has been experimenting a lot with its digital assistant Cortana this year. The company initially decoupled Cortana from Windows 10 search functionality and launched it as a separate app in Microsoft Store.
The company has recently started to expand its role to be more than a simple virtual assistant. Today the Redmond giant has announced its integration into Outlook for iOS. Microsoft aims to improve the productivity of Outlook users with this change.
Outlook’s Play My Emails functionality uses Cortana to read out your emails just like a human being. This feature improves multitasking abilities and lets users to catch up with their inbox on the go. Microsoft initially, started working on this feature back in December 2018. However, it has been a year that Outlook’s Play My Emails feature was under development. Here’s how Microsoft describes the functionality:
“Catch up with what’s new in your inbox with Play My Emails. On your commute, multitasking or anytime your hands may be busy doing other things, let Cortana read text out loud from your messages so you can spend more time doing things you care most about. In the Outlook mobile app, you can stay connected with an intelligent experience for interacting with your inbox.”
The new feature is currently limited to iOS users in the US. Microsoft also revealed that the company has now used deep neural networks to improve the voice of its digital assistant. Cortana imitates humans to match the intonation and stress patterns.
We are all used to a female Cortana’s voice. However, the company has now announced a male voice option for its digital assistant. The new feature will be available for Android users in Spring 2020. It remains to be seen when Microsoft plans to release the masculine voice for all platforms.
New Smart Features Coming Soon
The list of new features does not end here as Microsoft 365 is also getting a couple of new features with Cortana integration. You will start receiving a briefing email on a regular basis that keeps you updated about scheduled events. A common instance of this functionality can be documents relevant to your daily meetings.
Microsoft plans to push a preview of this feature for US-based users in early 2020. It is just a start and Microsoft has big plans to integrate the intelligence of Cortana in Microsoft 365. Furthermore, the company has also improved the natural conversational ability of its digital assistant.
Although all of these features seem interesting and you might see some of them within this week. Still, you need to wait until next year for general availability.