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Microsoft to Introduce Conversational AI in Outlook, Cortana in Microsoft Teams, and Additional New Features for Office Mobile Apps

Perceiving the mobile device as our personal, daily companion, Microsoft has taken a step forward in the evolution of mobile productivity. In the blog post published, Microsoft has announced several new features for mobile-first capabilities that help people bring balance to their day. The list includes conversational AI, integration of Cortana in Microsoft Teams, organizing and transforming physical information such as documents, photos, and live-action video into digital information, and offer secure ways to help protect sensitive information.

In the forthcoming weeks, Microsoft Outlook for iOS — with Cortana — will be integrated with conversational AI technology. The technology giant aims to deliver interactive, voice forward assistive experiences that aim to offer productive ways of organizing everyday life. It will also introduce the ability for people to collaborate around user-created video content enhanced with intelligent scanning technology from Microsoft Lens — previously Office Lens. Microsoft Lens can recognize English handwritten text and will further aid in digital transformation.

“The shift to remote work and the changes brought on by the global pandemic have resulted in an explosion of apps and services and the blurring between work and personal lives that ties us to our devices around the clock. More tools often mean more notifications and distractions that make it hard to focus on what matters. We are investing in AI at scale to learn how people work, collaborate, and connect so we can help them stay in control of their day, and feel more balanced and organized. Freeing people from being tied to screens, simplifying tasks into micro workflows, minimizing the burden of app, and process disaggregation are all capabilities centered on people’s evolving needs—helping them, in turn, focus on work and personal commitments,” said the blog post.

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Conversational AI in Outlook

Microsoft 365 conversational AI capabilities in Outlook will be accessible across email, calendar, and search. Using their voice, users will manage time, schedule events and meetings, add participants, compose messages, and much more. Cortana will analyze users’ preference in grammar and will recognize their voice nuances, accent, and dialect. The overall goal here is to make it faster and easier to ask Cortana to help get things done with your voice than typing on a limited keyboard.

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Cortana in Microsoft Teams

By integrating Cortana in Teams, users can speak natural language commands and accomplish the tasks of making a call, join a meeting, send messages, and much more. With the incoming support for natural language, users will take assist from Cortana in finding chats, people, meetings, files, and links. They can also ask Cortana to search for a particular person, topic, or across a range of time.

Natural Language in Teams. [Source: Microsoft]
Natural Language in Teams. [Source: Microsoft]
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Transforming Physical Information into Digital

The technology giant has also announced the new Microsoft Lens will enable the integration of short video bites in Teams Chat. Users will record a short video, edit it with text, emojis, and add live filters. The firm has stated the previews to be available by the end of this quarter. Furthermore, Microsoft Lens can also scan and transcribe handwriting from whiteboards, notes, letters, and other non-typed text.

Transforming written text into digital note. [Source: Microsoft]
Transforming written text into digital note. [Source: Microsoft]
The capability will be added to Office Mobile later in a future release. Users can scan handwritten letters, to-do lists, and other material and simply convert it into text. Microsoft has also improved the scanning quality with the Lens technology with better edge detection and added filters too.

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