Amazon's Alexa added a new productivity skill to its tool set after we inadvertently discovered in mid-February.
The smart assistant—embedded in the Echo line of smart speakers, as well as many other devices—now works with Office 365 business accounts, officially. That means anyone using Office 365 for work can now get their calendar updates from their smart speaker at home or in the office, as TechCrunch first reported.
Office 365 isn’t the first calendar to work with Amazon's Echo. From the beginning, Alexa has integrated with Google Calendar, and in mid-February Alexa added Outlook.com calendar integration. Oddly enough, we got a sneak peek of Office 365 integration back then. When we tried to use an Office 365 account with the Echo in mid-February, it worked just fine. At the time, however, Amazon said the Outlook.com skill was only designed to work with personal calendars.
To use Office 365 calendars with the Echo, users need to link their accounts through the Alexa app. Once that’s done you can ask Alexa what’s on your schedule for the day, or add an appointment with your voice.
Why this matters: While calendars are nothing new for the Amazon Echo, this marks the first major business-grade productivity service to interact with Alexa. That could help to expand the Echo’s appeal beyond the home, though corporations are more likely to be skittish about having always-on microphones sitting in their cubicles—not to mention the executive suite—than the average home user. Nevertheless, for those who need to keep track of their work schedules before they set out in the morning this will be a big help.