Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on its Cortana digital assistant for its next Windows 10 update. While the software maker is still, according to sources familiar with its plans, experimenting with having Cortana float around Windows 10, Microsoft is now starting to test some additional features publicly. Starting today, Windows Insiders will get access to a new commitment option in Cortana for Windows 10.
Commitments is very similar to the existing flight and delivery tracking in Cortana, but it's designed to pick up on emails where you promise your boss to finish a particular project in time. "Cortana will look for emails where you've said you're going to do something," explains Microsoft's Marcus Ash in an interview with The Verge. If you send an email to a friend or colleague with content like "I'll get back to you by next week" or "I'll have this finished by 5PM today," then Cortana will create a card to help you set a reminder.
Like flight reminders, the email scanning is completed locally so no data is sent to Microsoft's servers until you agree to add a reminder for the card. You can also disable this feature if you don't want Cortana scanning your email for phrases.
"We looked at how people use email today," explains Ash. "People tend to send themselves email a lot." As a result, Cortana will even pick up on those times when you email a useful link or note to yourself, and ask to generate a reminder if it makes sense. Microsoft is approaching this Cortana feature in the same way as flight tracking, so you won't get annoying pop-up prompts. Any suggestions for reminders will be surfaced in the regular Cortana interface.
Cortana's calendar management is also getting smarter
Alongside the commitment feature, Microsoft is also tweaking how Cortana manages calendar invites. Cortana will now alert you if you receive a meeting request that's outside the regular times you usually schedule meetings for. That's useful if your boss schedules a 7AM meeting the night before work and you want to adjust your alarm and travel times.
Both new features will be limited to Windows 10 testers today, but Microsoft plans to roll them out widely to everyone with Windows 10 soon. Android and iOS clients will also be updated in the future to support the new options, but Ash notes Microsoft is still working on some technology aspects of the Cortana service to fully enable these new features across multiple platforms.