Cortana is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant that is built into Windows 10 — and available on iOS and Android as well — and she has come a long way since she was first introduced in 2014. You can ask Cortana to perform all kinds of tasks, from setting reminders to creating calendar appointments to conducting searches, and she will respond accordingly to help you be more productive.
One of Cortana’s most powerful aspects is that Microsoft can continuously add new functionality in the background, which then rolls out to Cortana-enabled devices. On Thursday, Microsoft announced the general availability of suggested reminders, a feature that has been available to Windows Insiders for some time.
Basically, suggested reminders means that Cortana will search your email messages looking for promises and commitments that you made where a reminder might be helpful in keeping you on track. For example, if you tell your boss you will send a report by the end of the work day, then Cortana will offer to create a reminder to make sure you get it done.
The suggested reminders feature uses machine learning technology created by Microsoft Research and it works completely in the background to parse out relevant information, such as deadlines and tasks, to create meaningful reminder suggestions. Once she finds relevant emails, she will create a reminder that is populated with pertinent information.
For now, suggested reminders work on Windows 10 and accesses emails through Outlook.com and Office 365 for business and education. Support for other email systems, along with iOS and Android, is coming soon. To enable the feature in Windows 10, make sure your Outlook.com or Office 365 work or school account is connected to Cortana.
You can test the functionality by sending yourself an email with a commitment, such as “I will bake you a cake on Friday,” and then wait for Cortana to create a reminder. If you use suggested reminders as a Windows Insider, then you will notice that the digital assistant has improved its capabilities and will now do things like link to the email and turn on notifications.
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