Microsoft’s mobile Outlook app offers you a convenient way to view and manage your email, calendar and contacts. Beyond using your finger to tap and swipe your way around the app, you can enlist your voice for certain activities. By speaking, you’re able to dictate emails, schedule meetings and run searches using natural language queries. The major drawback is that this specific voice feature works only in the iOS/iPadOS version of Outlook, but Microsoft has promised that it is coming to Android.
If you don’t already have the Outlook app for iOS/iPadOS, download and install it from Apple’s App Store. When you first open the app, you’ll be prompted to connect to your Outlook email account. After your account is set up, press down on the blue Compose button in the corner. From the menu that pops up, tap the icon for Use Voice. A pane at the bottom asks what you want to do. Outlook also suggests various questions and commands you can say (Figure A).
Let’s try composing an email first. Say “Email [name of person in your contact list].” That brings you to a new email message with a subject line of “Quick note.” With the cursor in the body, you can now start dictating your message. Beyond speaking words, you can dictate punctuation marks as well as line breaks, new paragraphs, and similar actions. Tap the microphone icon if you need to pause the dictation. Tap it again to resume the dictation. When you’re finished, tap the Send icon to send the email or just say “Send email.” Outlook asks for confirmation. Say “Yes,” and the email is sent (Figure B).
Next, try scheduling a meeting with your voice. Again, press down on the Compose button and select the icon for Use Voice. Say “Schedule a meeting with [name of contact].” Outlook checks for meeting dates and times when both you and the other person are free. If the date and time look good, just say “Book it.” If not, tap the date or time and pick another slot. Then say “Book it” to set up the meeting (Figure C).
Finally, you can use your voice to search for emails, contacts or appointments. Press down on the Compose button and click the icon for Use Voice. Say “Search for [name of content].” For example, you can search for a specific word within your appointments, as in “Search my appointments for school.” You can search for a word or term within your emails, as in “Search my emails for Zoom.” And you can specify the name of a contact to see that person’s details, as in “Search for Lance Whitney.”
The right result should then appear. To see more results, tap the Go To Search Results button. You can then view the results among all categories or only from Mail, People or Events (Figure D).