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Microsoft Office 365 Update Brings AI Improvements, Ink Gesture Support, and More

Microsoft Office 365 Update Brings AI Improvements, Ink Gesture Support, and More
  • Draft Sync on Outlook for iOS will be a reality soon
  • PowerPoint and Word get several Ink-based features
  • Word on Mac offers AI-based contextual translation

Microsoft on Monday announced the rollout of new features for Office 365, the company's suite of applications available for mobile and desktop platforms. These new functional features include ink analysis and ink gestures on Microsoft PowerPoint and Word. There have been certain AI improvements for Word on Mac, new features for Outlook on iOS, Outlook calendar enhancements on Windows, and the Office 2019 preview is now available.

In a blog post, the Redmond, Washington giant announced several new features for its Office 365 suite of apps. Microsoft PowerPoint now gets enhanced shape and text recognition on Windows Ink, which can be used to convert handwritten words on their slides into texts and draw certain shapes. As for Word, new ink gestures allow users to add handwritten text to documents and manage existing content using a pen. Additionally, "Microsoft 365 subscribers can quickly split paragraphs into multiple lines, insert words into existing sentences, and join separated words, all using natural pen-based gestures," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.

Office 365 on Mac adds AI enhancements to Microsoft Word. With the update, Mac users can translate documents written in more than 60 languages, using neural machine translation to offer accurate contextual results. The new Resume Assistant helps create resumes with "personalised insights" with the backing of Microsoft's professional social platform - LinkedIn.

Full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on iOS and Android will soon be available for Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 F1, and Office 365 E1 subscribers. The versions will offer the ability to create, edit, and share documents on the go. Preview of Office 2019 for commercial customers on Windows 10 is now live. Office 2019 for Mac, Exchange 2019, SharePoint 2019, Project Server 2019, and Skype for Business 2019, will also launch previews in the following months.

Lastly, on the consumer front, Outlook for Windows gets the ability to prevent forwarding calendar invitations to non-relevant recipients - helping protect user privacy and preserving meeting information.

microsoft office 365 Microsoft Office 365 Features

The update also brings certain new features to Microsoft 365 Business such as the inclusion of Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), capabilities like data loss prevention and information protection to prevent unintentional leaks, and new technologies to improve enterprise-level security. As for IT management, the update brings enhancements to cloud-based device management, addition of Kiosk browser in Windows 10, and an integrated admin interface on Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Outlook

While Microsoft Office 365 got a ton of the above mentioned features, Outlook, specifically, got several features on all platforms. Things like bill pay reminders, suggested event locations and meeting rooms, meeting RSVP tracking and forwarding, and managing multiple time zones are all new features available on Outlook Calendar across Windows, Mac, web, and mobile.

As for Outlook Mail, it gets three new features - namely, organisation directory details to manage employee lists better, added support for SOCKS proxies to protect company data (available on Outlook for iOS and Android), and a new Bcc warning to alert users when they are blind copied on an email (available on Outlook for Windows).

On iOS, Microsoft Outlook will finally get Draft Sync that will let users continue their unsent drafts on mobile and desktop platforms alike. This feature will roll out in the near future. A new Organization view is coming to iOS that will show a hierarchical chart of all employees in the company with details like manager, direct reports, and coworkers for the selected user. AI will help Outlook surface relevant contacts from outside the organisation structure as well.

microsoft office 365 inline Microsoft Office 365 Features

Coming soon to the Outlook app on Android is Office Lens technology that allows users to trim down and embed images of documents, presentations, or of text written on a whiteboard. It's coming to Android in May 2018. Also coming to Android in the same timeline, and later this summer to Outlook for Mac, Quick Reply will offer contextual replies similar to Google's Smart Reply. Quick reply is available in Outlook for iOS.

Finally, the ability to tag favourite contacts (Android and iOS in June), enhanced group tracking (iOS in June), blocking external content tracking (Android in May), and the ability to enforce company policies on email data sharing (iOS and Android in June) are some new features coming to Outlook mobile soon.

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