Following a series of beta trials, Microsoft officially announced this morning that it’s bringing its virtual assistant Cortana to the lock screen of Android devices. Initially, Microsoft had tested putting an overview of your day on the lock screen – offering information like the day’s weather, commute times, flight or meeting information, and more – where it could be seen at a glance.
The feature was designed to compete with Google’s own Assistant technology, which also offers similar information.
During the beta, users could head into the Cortana’s Setting menu to switch on lock screen integration. This would place a floating Cortana circle logo with “Swipe to Open” on the screen. If you swiped it, you’d be shown your personalized feed, schedule and the other information Cortana offered.
The Cortana lock screen integration was rolled out earlier this month, Microsoft confirms, but it’s now widely available.
Today, you’re also able to interact with Cortana above the lock, the company says. That means you can ask questions to their virtual assistant, as you could with Siri or Google Assistant, for example, as well as perform various tasks like setting reminders.
This functionality could further challenge Google on its own platform. As Google’s only entry in the PC space is Chrome OS, it may be more useful for Windows users to add Cortana to their phones, given its interoperability across desktop, laptop, and mobile – including iOS and Android, not just Windows 10.
Microsoft says it has also improved the Cortana home on Android, making the information easier to read, along with other improvements like the ability to quickly add reminders and new calendar items, plus easier access to viewing, editing and adding items to lists.
Cortana in December rolled out an updated design on iOS and Android, Microsoft reminded users in today’s announcement. This upgrade had been focused on making it easier to get things done by putting the most important tasks more towards the center of the experience. The default experience is very purple, instead of the blue-and-black of the earlier Cortana look and feel. However, Microsoft added more color options in the weeks after the upgrade, including blue, green, and black.
In addition to its U.S. and U.K. availability, Cortana for iOS and Android is also launching in Australia today.
Working Abroad: Keeping Track of Time with Office 365
Keeping Track of Time with Office 365
By Kelly Cronin
Time flies when you're having fun. Time also flies when you're studying abroad, when you're taking seven classes, when you're visiting five cities in seven days, and when you have a thousand tasks to catch up on. Staying on top of everything you need to do can be a challenge no matter where you are. With so many constant activities (and distractions), keeping track of time while you work abroad can seem almost impossible. Working with productivity tools from Office 365 can make time management a whole lot easier.
The Outlook calendar can be accessed online, on your desktop, and on your Outlook mobile app. So there is never really an excuse to not keep up with it. I even checked my calendar to see what day St. Patrick's Day falls on while hiking the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland! One of the most difficult parts of working in a different country is managing the time differences. The Outlook calendar automatically switches the time to whatever timezone you are in. If you want to contact your co-workers, you can view their calendar and see exactly when they are having meetings, without having to try and add or subtract however many hours ahead or behind you are. Now you can avoid all those time-difference errors that are both embarrassing and stressful.
One of my best motivations to staying on track with tasks is knowing how much I'm helping out my team. Microsoft Teams promotes collaboration through easy-to-use productivity tools. If I don't want to e-mail my boss at 2am, I can post in our Teams page so she can see it whenever she has time. That way our messages aren't getting lost in the vortex of unread emails. Teams also separates conversations into different categories, so I can easily see exactly which topic I am discussing. More organization? Yes please!
On Teams, you can also have individual conversations with your co-workers. Use the "Chat" feature to talk one-on-one with team members. You can also save certain conversations so they show up in a list of your saved conversations, favorite different teams, and view both your own recent activity and Team activity. Plus Microsoft Teams is available on your mobile device, making it available anywhere! Collaboration from a different continent is what we like to hear.
Want to see what other Microsoft Solutions can help your workplace boost productivity from anywhere? Click Here
Collaborate on Files From Anywhere
Collaborate on Files From Anywhere
As written on products.office.com
Store, sync, and share files simply
Always have the latest version of files
Having your files stored online makes it easy to store, organize, and share them, so you can work on documents with teammates, share reports with business partners, or connect with customers. Your files are always up to date, so everyone has access to the latest version.
You can share files inside and outside your company. You always control access.
Share internally and externally
You control access to files
In our networked world, file sharing isn’t restricted to inside the office. But inside or out, you control who sees and edits each file. And you can create, edit, and review with others to avoid back-and-forth hassles and save time in the process.
Work together on the same file
No more emailing documents around and losing track of the latest version. Easily add, respond to, and track comments and status updates on one version of the document.
The power of social networking
Social networking enhances collaboration and sparks innovation. Get updates on documents and sites delivered automatically.
Keep your projects coordinated
Help teams stay in sync
Keep everyone up to date and working together as a team. Office 365 gives you many different ways to help ensure that everyone can find exactly the files they need fast and that all team members are moving forward together.
Build a team library
Keep project emails and shared documents together in one place with a project-specific mailbox only team members can access, so no time is wasted searching for what you need.
Create a team site
You control access to your team site. And with automatic policies, rights protection, and archiving, you can safeguard your team assets.
Wednesdays With Will - Your Mobile Workforce
Wednesdays With Will: Your Mobile Workforce
By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
Over the past 10 or so years, the mobile workforce is a term that has been heralded as the “modern” way of doing business. I always found this amusing because as long as there’s been commerce, the mobile workforce has been around in some form or another. The first example that comes to mind would probably be the door-to-door salesperson. A case can be made that the way we approach the mobile workforce has evolved though. This was typically dictated by the technology of the time.
Many of you may remember when the PalmPilot and Blackberry devices started popping up in the late 90’s. They were innovative for their day but comparing those devices to modern day smartphones makes their capabilities seem very limited. If you think about it though, it set the stage for “business productivity in real life”. No longer were you tethered to a desk or office to perform certain business tasks such as sending and receiving emails or scheduling appointments in your calendar. The technology expanded what we were capable of accomplishing outside of that setting. But it wasn’t about employees becoming more “mobile”. It was about having the ability to interact and collaborate with your colleagues and clients regardless of your location.
The performance of mobile phones in the past 5 year have surpassed these earlier devices in leaps and bounds. Tablets have expanded the mobile platform even further. As mobile devices became more prevalent and, more importantly, the preferred method of accomplishing tasks, solutions are created to accommodate this behavior.
The ability for your Sales, Marketing and Services teams to effectively communicate in real time is imperative for business today. More and more business owners are asking for ways to improve operational transparency. A great way to accomplish this is to leverage a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It’s a great platform for collaboration in the office but more importantly, it’s optimized for mobile use (smartphone, tablet, etc.) when on the go. Two examples would be a salesperson that spends most of their time out of the office talking with potential clients or your professional services team that is usually at a job site. As we discussed earlier, the mobile workforce isn’t a new concept. The most important part is how you empower your employees when they are outside of the office.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…
About the author:
Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.