Cortana Gets Deep New Outlook Integrations and a Male Voice

Cortana is getting a lot of focus at Ignite this year. Microsoft is introducing some new features for Cortana this week, though most of it won’t be available till next year.

At Ignite this year, Microsoft is officially announcing 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 first appeared back in December of last year, so it’s definitely been in development for a long time.

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The new feature, which is launching first for users in the United States, uses improved Cortana voices to read out your emails. Microsoft has improved Cortana’s voice with new deep neural networks that are able to match the patterns of stress and intonation in spoken language. The company is also introducing a “masculine” voice option for Cortana for the first time ever, though it’s not clear when this new voice will be available for Cortana on other platforms.

Android users will have to wait till Spring 2020 for the new feature.

Cortana is also getting some smart new features for Microsoft 365 users. The personal assistant will soon be able to send you a daily briefing email that keeps you up to date your day, giving you quick access to things like relevant documents to your meetings as well. The new feature will be first available as a preview for tenants in the US in early 2020. You will also be able to get Cortana to book your meetings for you, and the personal assistant can even go as far as booking an appropriate time for you and everyone else in a meeting which is pretty cool.

Microsoft says “this is just the beginning” for Cortana intelligence in Microsoft 365, so it’s possible we will see major upgrades in the future. Microsoft even teased “advancements” in Cortana’s natural conversational interactions, which the company hopes to ship in the coming months.

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Conversation 8 comments

  • ghostrider

    04 November, 2019 - 3:35 pm

    <p>Well, here we go then. Cortana is moving to the Enterprise, as expected, and being slowly ejected from Windows. Whether Cortana becomes as annoying as Clippy is another matter. If she keeps piping up with 'I see your typing a letter' or 'can I help you with that', many will do everything they can to execute her as fast as possible. If anyone has been in an IT office when a dozen laptops are being built with Win10 at the same time, you'll know what I mean!</p><p>This could be the best reason yet to stay with old-school on-prem Office for as long as possible…</p>

    • dontbeevil

      05 November, 2019 - 12:31 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#486379">In reply to ghostrider:</a></em></blockquote><p>there is a new Windows 10 UWP, try again</p>

  • IanYates82

    Premium Member
    04 November, 2019 - 7:23 pm

    <p>Neat. </p><p><br></p><p>It irks me when I read things like "Spring 2020". At least here in australia we don't have such a focus on seasons. Also, since our seasons on the southern side of the planet are the opposite, there's the extra adjustment required to that too. </p><p>Would like to just have Q2 2020 or something… </p>

  • red.radar

    Premium Member
    04 November, 2019 - 9:21 pm

    <p>I would think that anything that can divert you focus while driving is not a good idea. yes, you vision isn't diverted, but multi-tasking while driving seems like a bad idea. </p><p><br></p><p>Doing anything business related in an environment where you can't devote your focus just doesn't seem wise. This feels like a solution looking for a problem. </p>

  • dontbeevil

    05 November, 2019 - 12:31 am

    <p>but but "cortana is dead"</p>

    • Martin Sjöholm

      06 November, 2019 - 5:14 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#486475">In reply to dontbeevil:</a></em></blockquote><p>Thing is, in many regions it was never even conceived. Like Sweden. Siri has been here for ages and works brilliantly, but MS couldn't bother to make Cortana even get basic functionality in my region.</p>

  • Martin Sjöholm

    06 November, 2019 - 5:15 am

    <p>Cortana – now supporting all of what, three languages … ?</p>

  • clowg

    Premium Member
    06 November, 2019 - 6:52 pm

    <p>Oh great! More features that are US-only, or at best, never destined to be available in countries where Cortana has <em>never</em> appeared. (New Zealand in case you're wondering.)</p>


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