IoT
IoT
Software // Operating Systems
News
1/25/2016
03:36 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Core System Testing: How to Achieve Success
Oct 06, 2016
Property and Casualty Insurers have been investing in modernizing their core systems to provide fl ...Read More>>

Microsoft's Cortana To Spy On Email To Keep You On Track

Microsoft plans to make Cortana smarter with the ability to scan emails and set alerts for commitments you may forget.

9 Skype Alternatives Worth Considering
9 Skype Alternatives Worth Considering
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft is putting productivity at the core of its newest Cortana features, which include the ability to scan emails and schedule smart updates based on their contents.

The idea is to make Cortana more proactive about helping users manage their time. New features are intended to help those who often face overflowing inboxes and tend to forget about small but important tasks.

As it scans emails, Cortana will recognize language indicating a commitment and use this information to create reminders. If, for example, you send a message to your boss stating, "I will send you the project by 4:00 p.m.," Cortana will set an alert so you don't forget.

[Microsoft's Mimicker alarm app runs on AI.]

This feature, built in collaboration with Microsoft Research (MSR), is also handy for the times when you send yourself email reminders, including ones to book dinner reservations at a restaurant, pay a bill, or read a link later. Instead of digging through your inbox, you can receive alerts from Cortana.

Microsoft has integrated digital inking and location-based alerts into Cortana since it made the digital assistant a more prominent feature in Windows 10. Users can access the tool to track packages, get ready for meetings, schedule Uber trips, or set other location-based reminders across platforms.

The smart reminder feature is similar to Cortana's package tracking. You won't receive endless pop-up alerts if you opt into it. Rather, you access these notifications by clicking Cortana on the Windows 10 taskbar, which users frequently do anyway when they search for PC functions and Web-based information.

Suggested alerts are stored in Cortana's user interface to eliminate annoying notifications. Users have the option to disable the notification feature if they choose.

As part of today's announcements, Cortana has also been revamped to learn your scheduling habits so it can help set appointments. Over time, it will recognize when you prefer to set meetings and the hours when productivity is highest.

If you prefer morning meetings but receive a request for a 6:00 p.m. appointment, Cortana will inform you a potential meeting is outside your usual schedule. When a last-minute meeting request rolls in for 8:00 a.m. the following day, Cortana will send an alert in case you need an earlier wake-up call.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

The capabilities announced Monday are beginning to roll out to Windows Insiders, and will eventually reach all Windows 10 users. It seems the US and the UK will be the only countries to receive this update for now. Microsoft did not specify the timeline for a global release.

The new features announced Monday are the latest in a series of Cortana updates to roll out over the last few months.

In Dec. 2015, Microsoft released Cortana on iOS and Android for devices running iOS 8 or Android 4.1.2. Shortly before this, Cortana was integrated with Power BI to help enterprise users generate insights on business data.

Cortana's smart reminders will eventually arrive on Android and iOS, said Cortana Group Program Manager Marcus Ash in an interview with The Verge. Microsoft is still ironing out the technical aspects of bringing the new features to other platforms.

Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
nasimson
50%
50%
nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2016 | 10:22:29 PM
Not spying. A Welcome feature.
This is certainly not spying. I'd welcome this feature if it helps me to not miss a deadline.
impactnow
50%
50%
impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2016 | 1:24:42 PM
Re: Everybody else is doing it . . .
Unless we can easily turn off Cortana and her scheduling prowess .
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2016 | 1:19:54 PM
Re: Everybody else is doing it . . .
Why should Google and Facebook have all the fun? Microsoft gives us yet another reason to avoid Windows 10 for as long as possible.
impactnow
50%
50%
impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2016 | 1:04:35 PM
Re: . Not now Cortana
That's very funny I'm having the same issue I keep hearing times on my cell phone for the most mundane of items coming in my email . I can't seem to shut them off . There is such a thing as too much information . Reading about this new Cortana feature really scared me I kept thinking that my entire schedule was going to be thrown off by well-meaning AI assistant . These types of tools need very customizable UI interfaces make them worthwhile
jimbo0117
50%
50%
jimbo0117,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2016 | 4:28:16 PM
Re: Everybody else is doing it . . .
SunitaT0 - The vast majority of Google and FB users have no idea that the information gleaned from their emails, posts and likes are being sold by Google and FB. What MS is proposing is not selling that information or exposing it. They want to improve their user experience by having Cortana use that information for them and them alone - not expose it in any way externally. Yet what does the title of the article trumpet? MS spying.
SunitaT0
50%
50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
1/26/2016 | 2:29:16 PM
Re: . Not now Cortana
@Impactnow: I don't trust these companies because every device has a backdoor in the form of a software, a network key or something else, through which they can spy on us.
SunitaT0
50%
50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
1/26/2016 | 2:23:04 PM
Re: . Not now Cortana
@Impactnow: I wish AI knew when they were getting in our way. Google Now is very annoying when it syncs every email notification to its card stack. I have to swipe every time something pops up, and not necessarily important too! Like tracking information of a package being sent by Amazon.
SunitaT0
50%
50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
1/26/2016 | 2:20:19 PM
Re: Everybody else is doing it . . .
Jimbo: Yes, not only that we don't even trust such practises as of now. Every time people try to take a liking to MS Windows 10, MS drops a bomb which makes fanbases feel alienated again.
jimbo0117
50%
50%
jimbo0117,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2016 | 10:56:33 AM
Everybody else is doing it . . .
Facebook and Google have been selling behavior and tracking based information based on their user's email content for years, and it's always been treated with nothing but a shrug.
impactnow
50%
50%
impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
1/26/2016 | 10:28:46 AM
. Not now Cortana
Well I can see how this might be useful I can also see how it could be very irritating . Much like auto correct was designed to make our typing more efficient it can cause an entire realm of misspellings of its own . I can see easily have these reminders can become overwhelming end cause schedule issues . The criteria for using this will certainly need refinement to be useful or I foresee many people silencing Cortana in their email
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.