Microsoft has recently added some much-anticipated accessibility and quality of life enhancements to its Office 365 productivity suite.
Garage, Microsoft’s passion project outlet, has officially unveiled its Dictate add-on for Office 365 subscribers, while an impending update to Outlook will provide a keenly awaited dark mode display feature.
Originally launched around a year ago with support limited to certain versions of Word, Outlook and PowerPoint, Office Dictate has been extended to more versions and apps within the popular productivity suite. Users can now convert their speech to text in Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016 and Outlook 2016, as well as OneNote for Windows 10.
Interestingly, Office 2016 users will still need to have an Office 365 subscription to access speech recognition, but it would not be surprising if the feature were added as standard to the upcoming Office 2019 edition.
Dictation is accessed via a button on the Home ribbon in OneNote, Word and PowerPoint, and in the Message ribbon in Outlook. Users can opt for the program to attempt punctuation automatically, or manually state the name of any punctuation marks they need to add, such as ‘comma’, ‘full stop’ or ‘question mark’. Microsoft says that Dictate supports 29 languages and can translate into 60 others in real-time.
Dictate’s speech recognition is cloud-based, so an internet connection is required for it to work. Its terms of service stipulate that Microsoft is allowed to keep voice recordings to ‘improve speech recognition services’, and that it does not comply with US Federal regulations regarding restrictions to individuals’ private medical information.
To aid night owls and those who find bright displays problematic, Microsoft has confirmed the web version of Outlook will be updated with a dark mode feature. Dark mode, which essentially inverts white backgrounds to black and the opposite with text, is becoming ever more common in applications, operating systems and online services. YouTube recently added a dark mode to the mobile app versions of its video platform, while Apple has announced its upcoming macOS Mojave operating system will have a dark theme that can be enabled across all apps, menus and UI elements.
Microsoft received the call to add a dark mode to Outlook Web after a UserVoice customer survey found the feature was the most frequently suggested by users. Over 1,000 customers left a response on Microsoft’s feedback forums, while also requesting the developer fix certain issues with being able to discern between read and unread messages, and to simplify the layout in general.
Once ready, Outlook Web will join a growing number of Microsoft apps which already include a dark theme. The Edge internet browser, Groove Music and Movies & TV already have the option, which can also be enabled in recent Windows 10 build previews. An official launch date has not yet been mentioned, but a forum moderator has said that the ‘day is very soon.’
Seemingly small changes can have a huge effect on your business. For more information about how Microsoft Office 365 can give your business an advantage, contact us at WM Reply .