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.
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.