Microsoft's mobile 365 apps are getting conversational Cortana AI tech

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·2 min read

Microsoft has unveiled a raft of new updates for its 365 mobile apps, with new AI and natural language features in Outlook, Teams, Office Lens (now Microsoft Lens) and Office mobile, the company announced. It also introduced a new feature called “micro tasks” that let you do quick forms, polls and more in Office and Teams.

For Outlook on iOS users, Microsoft will soon introduce conversational AI technology with Cortana. Microsoft calls the feature its first for “interactive, voice forward assistive experiences that aim to provide helpful ways of organizing your daily life.” In a sample video, it showed someone asking “Hey Cortana, play my emails,” after which the voice assistant read back a recent message. A person was then able to use Cortana to schedule a meeting via Outlook.

Microsoft unveils Cortana AI tech for Outlook and other 365 apps
Microsoft unveils Cortana AI tech for Outlook and other 365 apps

Microsoft will also update Teams (followed by Outlook and Office) with support for natural language queries in English in the US. You’ll also be able to use search using text or Cortana to find messages, chats, meetings and more. The app is also adding a video content collaboration feature, allowing users to contribute and create use intelligent scanning from Microsoft Lens (formerly Office Lens).

Lens is also gaining the ability to recognize English handwriting and text, first in the Lens app followed by Office Mobile. That will allow you to “transcribe handwritten notes into text to simply add them to your documents,” Microsoft said.

Finally, Microsoft is introduce “micro tasking shortcuts.” Those will allow you to create quick forms or polls in Office or Teams, plan your time with a daily weather forecast, tap to link to a website from an Outlook mobile email with an integrated Bing web-view, use Microsoft’s To Do widget and more. To see all of the many, many features introduced, check out Microsoft’s blog.