7 min read

Power Apps accelerates the shift toward modern, AI-infused apps with governance at scale

In this era of AI, organizations are presented with both an opportunity and a challenge. They must quickly transform all their solutions to remain relevant and competitive. They also need to be confident in governing this fast-growing app ecosystem. We’re happy to share the newest features in Microsoft Power Apps that will help developers create modern, AI-infused apps faster, give administrators more control over managing thousands of Microsoft Power Platform makers at scale, and deliver better experiences to users.

Here are some of our key announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2023:

Copilot comes to all apps. We want everyone to have a copilot to help them get insights and take actions in their apps using natural language. Users in canvas apps will now have Copilot ready to answer questions about their app and data, and will be able to ask Copilot to draft text inputs for fields in apps—all automatically, without makers having to rebuild an application. For more advanced use cases, makers will also be able to customize their Copilot in apps with the full power of Microsoft Copilot Studio.

Managed Environments now have groups and rules. Building on the success of our advanced governance tools, administrators can now manage their Microsoft Power Platform estate in aggregate groups—enabling a whole new level of scale for governance. Admins can now set up environment groups and give each group a discrete set of rules. Makers are then automatically routed to a personal dev environment that follows set rules inside the group, and they can confidently publish using ALM pipelines. Using the advisor capability in Managed Environments, IT administrators can use recommendations, inline actions, and automated workflows to remove, restrict, and secure low-code assets across environments and development stages. This completes the set of end-to-end tools in Managed Environments that allows IT to stay in full control throughout the whole development process.

Build stunning native apps for mobile users. Mobile apps are now rendered natively on devices and get an upgraded user interface and experience, resulting in smoother animations, improved performance, and reliability. Truly native mobile UI/UX also brings the latest mobile interaction patterns to users. When you combine this with the recently introduced modern controls and the capability to use apps offline, Power Apps is a clear choice for business-critical frontline workflows, where users in the field rely on their apps to get the job done.

Below, we will explore each of the categories in more detail.

Copilot for end users, with no maker updates required

Copilot in Power Apps is the fastest way to build and edit apps in low-code. Besides using Copilot to accelerate their work, makers worldwide are enabling Copilot control and embedding generative AI into their apps. This allows their users to gain insights from data and perform actions within the app using natural language.

Now, we’re bringing Microsoft Copilot to more apps and more users. Every user of Microsoft Dataverse-backed canvas apps can access Copilot and ask questions about their data with a single click, without any action needed from makers. Simply ask Copilot which employee has the highest sales or which warehouse is out of stock for a certain SKU, and Copilot will query the Dataverse tables behind the app to find the answer.

This Copilot feature is entering a limited preview in December 2023 and will be in preview for all by the end of March 2024. It’ll be available by default to all Dataverse-backed canvas apps, but makers stay in full control—they can disable this experience for their apps at any time.

Canvas apps will also have Copilot text input assistance by default. Just click on any rich text or multi-line text control, give Copilot a short prompt, and watch it create text for you.

Additionally, makers will also be able to give their users the option to use a predefined query over their data in canvas apps. They simply add the Copilot answer control and set up the prompt. Users will then click the prompt and Copilot will generate an answer. This new control will be available in preview in December 2023.

graphical user interface, application

Both the ability to get insights about data in your app by asking Copilot questions and the option to get an answer to a defined prompt with one click mean significant gains to users’ productivity and their satisfaction, saving their time and enhancing the value they get from apps. Both features will be in preview in December 2023.

Customize with the full power of Copilot Studio

At the Microsoft Power Platform Conference earlier this year, we highlighted the option to customize copilot control to your liking. You can add additional sources to query straight in the Power Apps studio or go and fully customize using all the capabilities within Microsoft Copilot Studio.

At Microsoft Ignite, we will highlight the latest and greatest of Copilot in Power Apps—for makers and users. Join our breakout session, Accelerate impact with AI-powered low-code tools, to learn all there is to know.

Governance at scale: Now manage environments in groups using policies

The age of AI is demanding that organizations transform at a rapid pace, and at the same time, it’s enabling a wider group of contributors than ever before. As a result, it’s critical that organizations scale their approach to securing and governing enterprise-wide rollout of Microsoft Power Platform. We’re helping by bringing new options for admins to proactively manage their low-code ecosystem. Now, admins can establish environment groups and set rules that every new environment in the group will follow. Coupled with previously announced default environment routing and ALM pipelines in Managed Environments, organizations can elevate their environment strategy to a whole new level.

Admins can simply create environment groups once and assign a set of rules for each group—for example, limit sharing to less than five people or provide new makers with a custom onboarding message. Default environment routing will automatically route new makers to personal developer environments inside the dedicated group. Their environments will already be set up with rules in place, without the admin needing to take any additional action.

Just like that, admins get less cluttered default environments and can be confident that new environments for makers will follow the rules they set.

Once makers are ready to share their apps with users, they’ll be directed to use ALM pipelines to go through testing to production environments. AI-generated app descriptions aid administrators in understanding what the apps they’re reviewing actually do, expediting the approval process. This makes building and modernizing of thousands of solutions faster and more streamlined.

Today, customers can join the limited preview to experience environment groups and rules. The features will be available for all customers in preview in Q1 2024.

Monitoring and adapting with advisor

In addition to proactive policies and rules, admins need to be able to easily monitor and act on the ever-growing number of apps, flows, and bots in the organization. With advisor in Managed Environments, IT now gets insights into what’s happening within their environments, as well as recommendations on how to act on potential security threats and implement the best practices. Admins can use inline actions for fine-grained controls or set up Microsoft Power Automate to automate workflows for bulk actions. For example, customers can now clean up thousands of unused apps in the default environment automatically. The advisor capability is now available in preview for all customers.

At Lumen Technologies, we have found that using advisor in Microsoft Power Platform admin center is essential for our maintenance and governance. It enables us to quickly reassign apps that have no owner or quarantine apps that are not in compliance. When used in conjunction with the Center of Excellence Starter Kit, advisor completes the picture. We are excited about the investment and the future how with advisor we can better protect and ensure the safety of our data and apps.

Andrew Gaskins, Principal Solution Architect, Lumen Technologies

With the set of tools available now in Managed Environments, IT can execute an end-to-end strategy with ease, set up proactive policies using environment groups and rules, control deployment with ALM pipelines, and monitor and adapt with the help of advisor. More control, more visibility, and less effort.

A presentation slide titled Low-code, high scale. The slide shows three areas where Managed Environments help: proactive policies, scalable development, and monitor and adapt.

Learn more about scaling and governing low-code ecosystems in your organizations. Join the Microsoft Ignite breakout: Operating Microsoft Power Platform at enterprise scale.

Reliable modern apps anywhere

Power Apps is the tool for building modern, high-performing business apps. These apps offer practical value, are fast, visually appealing, and provide users with a seamless experience wherever they are.

The advancements in mobile apps built on Power Apps are especially interesting for frontline worker-heavy industries. With 80 percent of global workforce being frontline workers, and 46 percent of them expressing the need for better technology tools to make their jobs easier, gaining just a few seconds advantage in performance and ability to execute, regardless of connectivity, means immense efficiency gains to everybody in the frontline.1

Now, we’re bringing truly native UI/UX to mobile apps. With this, mobile apps will be optimized for devices, offering smoother animations, integrated device features, and more reliable performance. These modern mobile applications in their hands will empower your frontline workforce to be more productive, making their daily tasks quicker and reducing the time it takes to complete their work.

There is no need to rebuild your apps, just opt your existing canvas apps into the Optimize for devices experimental app setting to get these improvements. Available in preview environments today and rolling out worldwide over the next few weeks.

Build Copilot-powered, enterprise-ready, and modern apps with Power Apps today

Our industry-leading generative AI implementation—Copilot—serves both makers and users. Our governance at scale is unrivaled, spanning proactive policies, support for scalable development, and out-of-box monitoring tools. Users of the apps get fast, modern, and reliable experience on any device. With all this, Power Apps is the ideal solution for organizations looking to quickly build numerous apps at scale.

Power Apps, as well as the broader Microsoft Power Platform, will continue to invest time into these areas. We’re eager to hear your opinions and feedback on how your organization is using our market-leading low-code application platform to build amazing solutions.

We invite you to build with Power Apps and join us for Microsoft Ignite or watch on demand. If you’re interested in learning more about how Microsoft Power Platform accelerates productivity for professional developers, sign up for our monthly newsletter to get the latest updates.

1 Technology Can Help Unlock a New Future for Frontline Workers (microsoft.com)