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Microsoft Adds Voice Features To Office 365

Microsoft is adding transcription and dictation coice-command functionality to Office 365 for web, which it says will allow users to spend less time and energy on time-consuming work.

Using the Azure Cognitive Services AI platform, the new Transcribe and Dictate features are available now for Office 365 subscribers using the Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers. Transcribe allows uploading recording and transcription of conversations directly into Word for the Web, similarly to functionality offered by Otter.ai; it also permits uploading and transcription of files recorded earlier, up to five hours per month and 200mb per file.

According to Dan Parish, Principal Group PM Manager – Natural User Interface & Incubation at Microsoft, Transcribe will offer customers more time and flexibility with their work.

“Whether you’re a reporter conducting interviews, a researcher recording focus group sessions, or an online entrepreneur recording informal discussions, you want to be able to focus on the people you’re talking to without worrying about taking notes and without having to spend hours transcribing your conversations after-the-fact.

“Transcribe detects different speakers so after you finish recording, you can easily follow the flow of the transcript. After your conversation, you can revisit parts of the recording by playing back the time-stamped audio and you can even edit the transcript if you see something amiss,” he said.

Microsoft has also added voice commands to its Dictate feature, which Parish says will allow customers to “break away from the keyboard”.

“Whether you’re stuck waiting in the car to pick up takeout, on a short walk to stretch your legs, have a temporary or permanent disability that makes typing difficult, or you just think better when on the move, you need flexibility to transition throughout your day while getting everything done.

“Whether on desktop or mobile (or transitioning between devices), you can stay in the flow and focus on your message by using dictation with voice commands to add, format, edit, and organize your text,” he said.

The new features are already live in Office 365 for web. Transcribe in Office mobile, and Dictate with voice commands for mobile and desktop apps, will arrive by the end of the year.

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