Easier said and done — just use your voice

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Outlook Blog articles.

Outlook is designed to help you connect, organize and get things done. Recently we introduced Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS and Android where you can ask Cortana to help you catch up with what’s new in your inbox and reply to emails or schedule a meeting using your voice.  Additionally, we introduced Search in Outlook mobile that supports using natural, everyday language to help filter and narrow your query by typing or speaking into the mic.  Today we are announcing the ability to do more in Outlook mobile with your voice. Using natural language and simple commands, you can quickly do more than search for events, emails and files. Rolling out in early October, you will be able to initiate a new message, schedule a new event and even connect with a friend or colleague by calling them with voice commands. 

 

Voice commands are effectively shortcuts to common functions of Outlook. Using intelligent technology, AI and voice services, we are just beginning our journey to provide you with new and helpful ways to stay organized and prepared throughout your day.

 

Let’s start with an example of using your voice to quickly compose a new email. Instead of searching for a specific email you want to reply to, simply tap the mic in the keyword search box, and instruct Outlook with a voice command to send an email to a specific person. For example you can say “Email Adele that I’m running late”. Outlook initiates a New Message, populates Adele’s email address and Subject of a Quick note and the body includes your message “I am running late”. In this example we added a bit more information, Outlook picked up the additional details which informed the Subject about the Budget meeting.

 

Compose a quick emailCompose a quick email

 

And that’s it.  A quick, short email composed completely with your voice. You may notice that inherently, Outlook will be able to know contacts that are relevant to you should there be several with the same name in your contacts or company directory. Based on the Microsoft Graph, the service connections disambiguate people with the same name and populates email addresses those that are in context and closest to you. 

 

Now let’s look at scheduling a meeting with someone you’re connected with. “Schedule a meeting about Group Meditation with Megan". In this case, you may have just seen in a related topic on your calendar. With a quick voice command you can start to schedule a new event with Megan while it's top of mind to discuss. 

Find time for a quick syncFind time for a quick sync

 

Because we provided context for the meeting in this example, Outlook populated the Title with Group Meditation for the event. If there's no additional context provided, Outlook will default to Quick Sync or Sync with your contact name. The relevant person’s email fills the People field of the New Event and then picks the next available time slot to meet.

 

Today we are also announcing that the Outlook for iOS and Android will soon roll out a new experience to help you find times that work for everyone. 

 

A new way to find time that works for everyoneA new way to find time that works for everyone

 

By default, Outlook will look for the next 30 minute timeslot when everyone’s available but if you need to meet for a different duration or want to target this week or next, there are advanced filters to customize and set preferences. Outlook will suggest times when attendees are all free to meet. If no options are available, you still have the ability to manually pick a date and time that works best for most of you. We continue to explore additional ways to reduce the effort and the time it takes to get common tasks done in Outlook, designing for mobile experiences where using your voice mitigates the need to type on tiny keys is yet an additional way.

 

Another common activity is to reach out to the people who help you get things done – or simply reach out to connect in real-time. Helping you stay connected to people and keeping you organized is at the core of what Outlook does. Soon you will be able to use your voice in Outlook to call a specific person. Based on the power of AI and the Microsoft Graph, Outlook will find the person most relevant to you and provide you with options to connect. For example, you may initiate a call by saying “Call Anna” and then select whether you call via phone to Anna’s available numbers or call her via Microsoft Teams. But if the latter is your preferred method of calling your colleagues[1], you can just say “Call Anna on Teams” and Outlook will take care of that[2].

 

Voice enabled shortcut to call your colleagues on TeamsVoice enabled shortcut to call your colleagues on Teams

 

 

For a full explanation of using voice commands in Outlook, please watch this digital demonstration by Jose Rady Allende from our AI team at Microsoft.  

 

Be sure to also check out Outlook and Bookings at Microsoft Ignite 2020. The sessions should start to light up at 8AM PT on Tuesday, September 22nd.  We can’t give out stickers at Ignite this year but feel free to download our free digital give-away from here.

 

 

[1] Calling via Microsoft Teams will be available to users within the same company

[2] Microsoft Teams mobile app is required to complete the call.

(Screenshots and gifs are for illustration and may not be final designs)

 

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