Microsoft has announced the acquisition of Genee, an Apple iOS calendar scheduling app based on artificial intelligence, which Microsoft said will be rolled into the Office 365 suite of applications. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
Co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee started Genee in 2014, and will join Microsoft to help with the integration process. The service will be shut down on 1 September.
"Genee uses natural language processing and optimised decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one," said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Outlook and Office 365 at Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the deal.
"It's especially useful for large groups and for when you don't have access to someone's calendar."
Jha cited the example of a sales rep using Genee to schedule a meeting with a potential customer.
"Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant," he explained.
"Genee understands that you want to 'Find a time to meet Diana for coffee next week' and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will even send the meeting invitation on your behalf, freeing up your time."
The app is also able to make rescheduling meetings easier. It was available solely for Apple's iOS operating system, but will now be discontinued. Users won't find scheduled meetings being deleted from their calendar, but won't be able to use it to schedule new ones from 1 September, just 10 days from now.
The technology uses natural language processing combined with raw information, such as a recipient's email address, to semi-automate a simple but sometimes time-consuming process, according to Lee.
Lee thanked those who will now be cut off as a result of the acquisition. "The Genee team will take the valuable experiences and lessons that you taught us to Microsoft," he said.
Genee currently synchronises with Apple's iCloud, Gmail and Office 365.
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