Microsoft has announced a few enhancements for their spreadsheet app Excel, integrating AI with the aim of helping to boost productivity.
Four AI features
Microsoft is working to sure-up Excel’s position as spreadsheet-extraordinaire with four new tweaks, including:
- ‘Ideas’: intelligent productivity suggestions
- Stock Quotes and Geographic data types
- Simplifying complex formulas with ‘dynamic arrays’
- The ability to ‘insert data from picture’ via Excel Android.
The latter ability—to take a photo of another document or screen and have Excel convert it into a workable, editable dataset—sounds like it could be a real time saver when handling metrics and analytics.
The other three, well, we’ll wait and see.
A Clippy comeback?
The short description of ‘Ideas’ is reminiscent of the often-unwelcome Microsoft Office Assistant that graced Office versions from 97 to 2003. With UX and AI developments of the last two decades, though, we should expect a little more from Microsoft’s newest efforts.
For example, they say that ‘Ideas’ will actually ‘identify trends, patterns, and outliers in a data set’, which sounds like it might be genuinely useful.
After ‘Ideas’ takes root in Excel, expect to see it in other MS Office apps shortly after.
Is this how AI should be used in a productivity suite, or is Microsoft missing the mark?
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