Microsoft’s Personal Digital Assistant already has the ability to assist us on Windows 10 Mobile and desktop devices in a multitude of ways.
She can schedule reminders, set appointments, track packages and keep you up to speed on all of the subjects you want to keep track of.
Cortana’s ability to really learn who you are, just like any real life assistant, is a critical aspect of enabling her functionality. It also requires you to make a specific choice to have her monitor things like your email and calendar to do her job.
In other words, Cortana does not spy on you – she only keeps an eye on things when you give her permission to do so.
OK – with that out of the way let’s talk about two new features that are going to start arriving for Cortana users beginning this week.
Establishing reminders from your emails
Have you ever made a commitment to accomplish a certain task in an email reply?
You probably used words like I will get this back to you next Tuesday or I will have an answer for you later today.
This update to Cortana allows her to be more proactive in picking up phrases like that in your email and ask you about setting a reminder for the commitment. It is machine learning that enables her to recognize when you make those commitments in an outgoing email and that triggers the reminder prompt.
Improved calendar management
Just like a real life personal assistant, who over time learn your preferences and tendencies when it comes to the hours you work and when you typically take and participate in meetings.
Another one of this week’s updates to Cortana gives her the ability to recognize when someone sends you a meeting request that is outside of your normal hours. When an email comes in that meets this criteria she will alert you that there is a timing issue with the meeting request and pop up an alert so that you can deal with it immediately and/or set an alarm to remind you about the meeting.
According to Microsoft these new features, plus the ones that have been shipped previously, are just starting to scratch the surface of how Cortana can help.
These new features will roll out first to Windows Insiders and then everyone else using Windows 10 down the road. It also looks like these will only be available in the US and UK initially. No word on other locales at this point.
Here is a video from Microsoft explaining these new features: