Conversations become actions in Outlook

Laura Graham

At Build 2018, we’ve announced several technologies to help developers enrich emails with new interactive capabilities.  These capabilities allow developers to engage with their users more deeply, right in context within the email, thereby reducing the friction between intent and action. If your application sends notifications,  uses approvals in business processes, or connects to mail, calendar, and contact data, you can take advantage of new engagement opportunities across Outlook.  

Adaptive Cards provide new ways to create engaging conversations 

Many email conversations require and imply actions – such as approving an expense report or assigning a task to a team member.  With Actionable Messages,announced last year, developers can transform  their email notifications, workflows processes, and conversations into actions, enabling users to complete tasks faster right within Outlook. At Build 2018, we’re dramatically enhancing the capability of Actionable Messages in several ways, starting with the use of the Adaptive Cards as well as support for payments in Outlook. 

Adaptive Cards provide a rich display format along with actions inside of email messages

Adaptive Cards provide a rich display format along with actions inside of email messages

Adaptive Card is a new card design format that is supported across Outlook, Windows in the Timeline View, Teams and within Cortana.  Every business process – and any service that sends a notification – can immediately benefit by adding adaptive cards directly into emails, bots, and Team chats.  Adaptive Cards are now supported for Actionable Messages within web-based Outlook clients, and will soon be supported in Outlook 2016 for Windows.  

You can now design your Actionable Message card using the Adaptive Card format. It’s as simple as adding JSON markup to the body of your emails and making HTTPS endpoints available to handle actions. Office 365 and Outlook take care of the rest, including beautifully rendering your card, allowing only authorized senders, and letting you ensure that actions are taken by expected users. 

Partners like GitHub, Asana, and Limeade will now support Outlook Actionable Messages with Adaptive cards to grow user engagement with their applications by lowering the friction of getting things done.  

It is very easy to build Actionable Messages using Adaptive Cards. Head over to our Actionable Message documentation, now featuring Adaptive Cards.  To create and design your own Adaptive Card, head over to the card playground and send the card to yourself using your Office 365 account and view it in Outlook on the web.   

Streamlining Payment Processes in Outlook

Payments in Outlook will enable users to pay bills and invoices directly from their inbox

Many emails in your inbox revolve around completing payment transactions such as paying a bill or invoice.  We will soon be introducing payments in Outlook to help users to pay bills or invoices, right in email, without needing to switch to another app or service.   Powered by Microsoft Pay, payments in Outlook is a fast and secure way to pay from within email.  To start, it will be supported by a number of payment processors including Stripe and Braintree, billing services including Zuora, and invoicing services including FreshBooks, Intuit, Invoice2Go, Sage, Wave, and Xero.  We are also working together to include Fiserv, through the Fiserv Innovation Network.

Businesses that send bills or invoice notifications to customers over email can now embed a payment action within Outlook.  To get started working withpayments in Outlook, please review our documentation.  Note that Outlook is not a bill payment service and Microsoft is not acting as a bill pay agent. 

Payments in Outlook will roll out in phases, initially to a limited number of customers over the next few weeks and will be available more broadly in the coming months. 

Start engaging your users in Outlook with Adaptive Cards  

Adaptive cards extend Actionable Messages to make engaging customers wherever they work easier, and more streamlined.  Even processes like payments can now be resolved in the flow of working through email. This keeps customers focused, while also reducing task approval and completion times.  With an ability to embed Adaptive Card markup into existing mail processes, getting started with is easy. Review our overview documentation around adaptive cards to get started – we look forward to seeing Adaptive Cards arriving in users’ inboxes soon! 

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