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Microsoft today announced that it is beefing up Outlook with new AI-driven features. In the next few weeks (in North America in English), it will roll out a trio of features in Outlook on the web to expedite meeting prep, intelligently suggest meetings, and recommending meeting venues — all powered by the new framework announced last September.
“You’ve heard Office has been adding intelligent technology across the suite to help you stay ahead of threats and keep you in the flow of work,” product marketing manager Gabriel Valdez Malpartida wrote in a blog post. “We’ve also been working in Outlook to deliver intelligence that will help you stay organized and get things done.”
First on the list is Meeting Insights. On the eve of your next meeting, Outlook — leveraging Microsoft Graph, a developer platform that connects multiple services, devices, and products across Windows, Office 365, and Azure — will surface potentially relevant documents and notes. Post-meeting, it will organize files shared in emails, SharePoint, and OneDrive, along with messages exchanged about the meeting and content shared both during and afterward.
“The information is uniquely tailored, so people who are in the same meeting will not necessarily see the same recommendations,” Malpartida said.
Next up is Suggested reply with a meeting, which builds on Outlook’s existing suggested replies feature. (For the uninitiated, that’s the handy tool that suggests three short, canned replies at the bottom of the compose window when you respond in a thread.) Now Outlook detects when people have an intent to meet and automatically bubbles up a Schedule a meeting option. Clicking on it pulls up a meeting form prepopulated with info.
To enable Suggested replies (and by extension Suggested reply with a meeting), head to the Settings menu within Outlook, then View all Outlook settings > Mail > Compose and reply. Check the box next to Show suggested replies, select save, and you’re golden.
Lastly, there’s Smart time suggestions and Suggest locations. The former suggests days and times when all attendees are free to meet, while the latter serves up meeting spots — like conference rooms or cafes — tailored to your preferences, along with those places’ addresses, hours, and contact information.
“We aim to bring you features that will make a difference, so some of these features will show up only in Outlook on the web while we gather data on them and evaluate whether to bring them to other Outlook endpoints,” Malpartida added. “We hope these features help you save time and get things done faster.”
The updates follow on the heels of Microsoft’s refreshed Outlook for iOS, which features a new UI, app icon, and “sensory feedback. Perhaps uncoincidentally, they also come days after Google brought AMP for Email project — an open source branch of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project that promises more dynamic and web-like email experiences — into general availability.
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