Microsoft has been cutting back the availability of Cortana, but it still appears to be working on new features. A patent filing discovered by WindowsUnited reveals one of the productivity-focused features the company has been considering as it shifts focus to enterprises.
The proposal would let users give Cortana access to their emails in return for an intelligent summary. The diagrams give conversational examples such as “You have one email from your boss, and email to check-in for your flight, a text requesting your resume…”.
Users would then be able to reply asking for further details on specific messages, with this possibly extending to content from SMS or other sources. The system would automatically rank messages in order of importance to ensure you get the most timely information first.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Outlook received similar functionality not that long ago. A feature called Play My Emails conversationally reads them to users with Cortana’s voice.
As the patent was first filed on October 17, 2017, it’s very possible it was the inspiration for this functionality. Notably, though, the patent seems to suggest pulling data from more sources. This could signal an expansion of the feature in the future when Microsoft launches its Surface Duo smartphone, or it could have simply not worked in practice.
Either way, we can expect further features like this in the future as Cortana is repurposed towards app integrations, rather than a standalone assistant. Let’s just hope Microsoft eventually makes her play better with other regions and languages.