Outlook gets nifty voice features on iOS, but Android users have to wait

Microsoft has a new update for its Outlook mobile app that targets users who prefer speaking rather than typing when it comes to getting things done. The update brings Cortana to the app in a big way, enabling users to ask questions about their agenda, schedule meetings, and other tasks, as well as using voice to search through their emails and related content. The update is only available on iOS for now, however.

Microsoft gave up on bringing Cortana to the general smart consumer market, which is largely dominated by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The company shuttered its Cortana apps for Android and iOS, but the virtual assistant lives on and Microsoft intends to use it for productivity as part of its products. Outlook on mobile is the latest example of this effort.

With the update, Outlook on iOS now features a Cortana-powered voice control feature that allows users to schedule meetings, compose emails, and search their content using ordinary voice commands. The functionality is accessible via a plus sign in the bottom right corner of the app that, when pressed, includes a new entry called 'Use Voice.'

After selecting this, the user can dictate a message for Cortana to type in an email draft, ask Cortana to find their next meeting or scheduled activity, or look for content. The voice search capability covers things like looking for things in one's calendar, locating a coworker who is in one's contacts, or searching for files that may be nestled away in old emails.

The ability to use voice commands on mobile rather than just desktop is particularly welcome given how often professionals default to their mobile device rather than their laptop. Microsoft is only rolling the feature out for its Outlook on iOS app at this time, but it has said that the same functionality will arrive on Android in the future.