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Microsoft's Cortana can now suggest follow-up tasks

It can also summarize your most important emails.

Microsoft may not be the biggest player in the AI assistant space, but it has some tricks that could give it an edge. The software giant has used an AI-themed event to demo Cortana's widening abilities, most notably to 'chain' skills together based on what you're doing. If you book tickets for a concert, for instance, Cortana could suggest adding the concert to your calendar so that you won't forget to head out that night. You could get everything done in a single, elegant voice command session.

Cortana should also make better sense of your overflowing inbox. The demo showed the AI helper not only sorting emails, but summarizing the most important ones. If your boss asked about the status of a project, you would know without having to look at your email app or check your notifications. The feature works across different email account types and subjects, so this could include both your Outlook account at work and your personal Gmail address.

It's not certain how readily these features will be available as we write this. However, Microsoft did score a coup: it landed its first deal to integrate Cortana into a third-party Android launcher, in this case Cheetah Mobile's CM Launcher. The addition gives CM Launcher voice control it didn't have before, whether it's making calls, reading the news or searching the web. The Cortana version is available in an open beta right now in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, with a polished release due in January.

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