Microsoft is planning to integrate its AI assistant Cortana directly into the Outlook mobile apps on iOS and Android, according to people familiar with the company’s plans speaking with The Verge. Cortana currently offers various email-related actions and commands on supported devices, but the assistant can not be called up within Outlook on smartphones.
With the addition of Cortana, Outlook users will be able to hear their emails read aloud and respond to them with their voice. Details are still scarce, but the sources said that command phrases will include asking Cortana “What’s my email,” or asking to read recent emails from a specific contact.
The Cortana integration will allow users of the popular mobile email client to listen to and respond to emails with their voice. This will be particularly useful during car journeys, and Microsoft is testing Cortana integration directly within Outlook mobile that will work over Bluetooth and read messages aloud. Users will be able to ask Cortana phrases like “what’s my email,” or just to read messages from specific contacts.
The most recent Cortana-related iOS news saw the AI assistant’s iOS app gain native iPad support last month. Prior to that, Microsoft updated Cortana’s iPhone app last October with a revamped interface and improved performance.
Microsoft and Google each have apps dedicated to their AI assistants on the iOS App Store, aimed as competitors to Siri. The main limitation of the non-Apple assistants is that they lack system-wide functionality on iPhones and iPads, and can only work within their own apps.
Right now, the Cortana Outlook update is being tested internally within Microsoft and “if the feedback is positive,” then it will make its way to beta and public releases of Outlook on iOS and Android.