Microsoft is doing some very compelling work infusing its various productivity tools with artificial intelligence. But the audience for all that work has been limited by the small number of email and calendar services Cortana could talk to. Now Microsoft has announced that it has extended its personal digital assistant to Gmail (available next month) and Google Calendar (effective now).
This new integration will give many non-Microsoft users a better reason to use Cortana, or to own the Harman Kardon smart speaker that uses Cortana as its brain. Cortana has a cool new feature that scans your email across your work account (which may be Outlook) and your personal account (which may be Gmail), uses some fancy machine learning to identify the emails that look important, then asks you which ones you want read aloud. You can create a response with your voice, too.
Cortana can now look into both Outlook and Google calendars, too. So you might tell Cortana to schedule either a personal event (like dinner with a friend) or a work event (like dinner with your boss) and then make follow-up requests. Microsoft says you can search the web—with Bing—to find scheduled events like concerts or sports events, then buy the tickets via Cortana using voice commands (provided that Ticketmaster already has your card on file). With one more voice command you’ll be able to add that event to your calendar.