Cortana may be heading to iOS & Android devices

cortanaMicrosoft’s personal assistant Cortana may no longer be exclusive to the Windows ecosystem. Cortana is currently only available on Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 10 OS, but according to a Reuters report, Microsoft now plans to extend Cortana’s availability to iOS and Android devices.

The project to bring Cortana to other platforms is internally called “Einstein” and we’re hearing the popular assistant will come to iOS and Android as an advanced standalone app, available for phones as well as tablets.

“This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame,” said Eric Horvitz from Microsoft Research.

Over the last year, Microsoft has invested a lot into Cortana’s artificial intelligence capabilities and although many die-hard Microsoft fans will be disappointed that Cortana will no longer be exclusive to the Windows platform, having a wider audience for the assistant will greatly benefit Microsoft and the capabilities of Cortana.

Cortana is already deeply woven into Windows Phone, but this fall, Microsoft will be integrating Cortana deeply into Windows 10 and we expect that the personal assistant will also make its way to the Xbox One.  The power of multiple device types using the same personal assistant can create a very powerful experience as they communicate with one another.  If implemented correctly, the experience could offer something very unique and potentially game-changing.

This is yet another example of the CEO Satya Nadella’s push to sell Microsoft services on non-Windows platforms and devices as part of the mobile-first, cloud-first strategy.  A perfect example of what Nadella is striving to achieve is what Skype has become.   Skype is a truly universal tool that works across any device type and has practically become the industry standard in that particular market, and it’s expected to further solidify its position with the up and coming Skype Translator.

Microsoft’s aim is to create the same experience with Cortana, and have a truly cross-platform personal assistant that could work with any device in the hopes of becoming a universal standard as well.  With Windows 10 being a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 users, it’s expected to have a significant market penetration when it hits the market.

With Windows being regarded as a monopoly in the desktop computing market, it’s no question that hundreds of millions of people will have their first interaction with Cortana.  Those users however, are most likely using iOS and Android on their smartphones and tablets, and would surely benefit in having Cortana extend her assistance on these devices which could potentially sway users from the likes of Siri and Google Now.

Source: Reuters

Video: How Cortana will work on the PC and roam across devices

cortana moodsCortana’s role is becoming a lot more important for Microsoft as she further integrates into more of the company’s offerings. Windows 10 is a major release for Microsoft and one that will have hundreds of millions of people upgrading to in very little time.

If Cortana’s capabilities are indeed useful and users embrace this feature, it can be a major differentiator for the Windows platform and one that will help with adoption of more Microsoft hardware, especially as Cortana seamlessly roams with you across devices.

Imagine how convenient it is to tell Cortana on your phone to deliver a reminder that pops up, at just the right time, on your desktop.

Marcus Ash and the team working on bringing Cortana to the PC are not just bringing the ”snackable” interactive app in its current form on Windows Phone, instead Cortana is built for the PC in mind.  One of the key components of Cortana on the PC is the ability to multitask while asking her for assistance. You would be able to ask Cortana to pull up a certain file, photo, and dictate an email, etc. all without taking your hands off the keyboard as you work on your current task.

Ash also talks about the care taken into creating a personal experience with Cortana and her current digital form.  It’s pretty interesting to see how many different movements a circle within a circle can have depending on Cortana’s mood.  Small details such as these play more of a role than one thinks.

“What else is coming? We’re looking forward to helping people achieve productivity in communal scenarios. For example, you may have several PCs at home, and you’re all sharing and storing music with each other. We want Cortana to help you easily find the music you want and play it from any of the devices, throughout your home, across PCs, phones, tablets and speakers, in a group setting. More to come on that very soon”

Cortana is present on the current build of the Windows 10 preview build for those of you interested in trying out the feature.

Source: Microsoft



Cortana now predicts Barclays Premier League derby results; picks Liverpool to beat Everton

Cortana-Premier-League-predictionCortana has gained a lot of popularity and world-wide attention when she correctly predicted 15 out of 16 matches in last year’s World Cup final round of 16. Microsoft’s personal assistant on Windows Phone also pegged the The New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLIX, which they did against the Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday.

The Windows Phone and Bing teams at Microsoft continue to delight us with Cortana’s capabilities. Cortana is now capable of predicting upcoming Premier League matches as the two major Premiership derbies are kicking off this weekend.

Cortana’s future-seeing abilities are based on Bing’s prediction engine which uses cloud processing and machine learning as it takes into account many factors in real-time. Some of the key factors that Bing and Cortana use to create these predictions includ trending related search terms, player and team statistic, player injuries, home-field advantage, the weather and many many more.

As for the upcoming football matches, Cortana has picked Liverpool to beat Everton with Liverpool having 12.5% higher chances to win. Additionally, according to Microsoft, “Cortana has also predicted that Arsène Wenger’s resurgent Arsenal will continue their dominance over Tottenham in the North London derby this weekend, with a 13.1% greater chance of victory.”

You can keep track of all of the current and upcoming Premier League derby predictions simply by asking Cortana questions such as:

– Predict (insert team name) match

– Who will win the match between (insert team name) and (insert team name)?

– Will (insert team name) beat (insert team name)?

Source: Microsoft

Twitter for Windows Phone updated with new features and Cortana integration

Twitter updateAfter several months of waiting, Twitter has just updated their Windows Phone app.  There are some notable improvements such as the new Cortana integration where you would say “Twitter, new Tweet” and Cortana will start up the app and listen in for you to dictate your tweet.

Other improvements include integration with the people hub which automatically adds the people you follow on Twitter to your contact list, and the ability to share a page to Twitter from Internet Explorer.

The one feature Twitter for Windows Phone still doesn’t have which the iOS and Android do is the ability to Tweet animated GIFs. It may come in the next update which hopefully doesn’t take as long to come out as this one did.

Source: Microsoft

Cortana lands in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany for Windows Phone Developer Preview users

cortana_spain_italy_germany_franceMicrosoft has just announced the release of Cortana to a swath of new regions in Europe as the company is eager to localize the popular personal assistant to as many countries as possible.

Windows Phone users in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany who are running the Developer Preview OS on their devices will soon have access to Cortana and her personality will be custom-tailored to each language and market according to Microsoft.

Microsoft is rolling out the update over the next couple of days starting today. However, Cortana will hit these markets as an Alpha release, meaning not all features will be available just yet. Things like flight tracking and reference data will not be available during the alpha stage of the product, these will likely arrive once the Beta is released (hopefully very soon!). The good news is, Football-related queries will work in these European markets.

According to a recent blog post by Microsoft’s Marcus Ash,

“Alpha means that Cortana is new to these countries, most of the features in the beta version are available but some are missing or coming soon. For example, flight tracking is not available at this time for alpha. Transit data is currently limited to larger cities and will expand as we have more data. Additionally, reference data (e.g. “How tall is Mt. Everest”) is also not available – but we’re working hard to enable this soon! We have also worked hard to tailor Cortana’s personality in each language (with local chit chat and jokes) to make her more locally and culturally relevant (i.e. make sure she fits in!). Cortana will also show European football (or as we Americans call “soccer”) league data, including Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and La Liga.”

To enroll in Microsoft’s Windows phone Developer Preview program, click here.

Source: Microsoft

Cortana jabs Siri yet again in new commercial promoting Xbox Dot View Case

cortana-siri-commercial-xbox-dot-cover-htc-one-m8Earlier we reported about a Microsoft commercial where the company takes jabs at the new, larger iPhone and its personal assistant Siri in an effort to draw attention to their new Lumia 830 smartphone and Cortana’s advanced assistant services included in the Windows Phone 8.1 OS the device ships with.

Now, yet again the creative minds in Redmond put together another Cortana vs. Siri commercial showing off the new Xbox Dot View Case and how it interacts with Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. Siri is put to shame for having a clunky outdated cover that quite frankly muffles her.

Microsoft is giving away the Xbox Dot View Case for free when you purchase the HTC One M8 for Windows phone, now through Now through Jan 31. Click here for more info on this deal.

The commercial is accordingly titled “Siri vs. Cortana – What Did You Say?”. Have a look!

“The new HTC One® (M8) for Windows® is more than just another pretty face. Now that it comes with Cortana, it’s got even more brains and beauty. Cortana can do all sorts of useful things to make your day easier. And with the HTC Dot View Case, you can chat with Cortana, take calls, and get notifications – all with the cover closed. Which makes you look pretty good, too. The HTC One® (M8) for Windows®. Now with Cortana.” says post on Microsoft Lumia YouTube channel.

Source: Microsoft/YouTube

Microsoft may be prepping to launch Cortana on iOS and Android


With Microsoft’s recent shift in offering all its services on competing platforms such as iOS and Android, many Windows Phone enthusiasts were wondering if Cortana could potentially make that list.  According to a report on Business Insider, Microsoft Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green told journalists that Cortana could possibly land on other operating systems.

When asked if that meant Cortana would eventually come to other operating systems, Larson-Green said, “The short answer is, yeah.”

This could possibly mean that “other OS’s” mean Microsoft OS’s such as Windows 10 and Xbox One.

We all know that Microsoft will bring Cortana to Windows 10 and the Xbox One, which will open the door to many possibilities, and with such a move they would introduce their digital assistant to hundreds of millions of new users. If Microsoft doesn’t see a significant increase in Windows Phone adoption after the launch of Windows 10 and new phones running the same OS, perhaps offering Cortana to other platforms to compliment the experience on the PC could be a viable Plan B.

It may be that Microsoft is considering this move, but taking what Julie Larson-Green said is not a confirmation this will happen, although it wouldn’t be surprising. We think it’s a Plan B solution and one that would only take place after Windows 10 is released and enough time is given to see the impact it has on Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s future is very dependant on Azure, and with such an advantage Microsoft has in Cloud computing as well as the advances in machine learning, Cortana could play a very important role for the company and Bing. The fastest way to have this happen is to open the service to other platforms to bring in as many users as possible, thus helping Microsoft improve the service at a much faster pace.

What do you think of this possible move?

Source: WindowsCentral

Watch Jen Taylor talk about her role as Cortana in Halo and Windows Phone

USA Today’s Evening Magazine conducted  an interview with the voice actress who plays Cortana, both as the Master Chief’s personal assistant A.I. in the Halo Franchise and as the digital personal assistant on Windows Phone.

We learned that Jen Taylor doesn’t play Halo because she can’t get used to the controller but has her husband play it instead.  She also mentions that she feels a little awkward with her role in singing songs as Cortana.

Jen Taylor started out as a radio DJ before she landed a role as Cortana in the Halo series in 2001, and she’s also active in local theatre.

Source:USA Today’s Evening Magazine Show via  Wmpoweruser

Cortana will be able to track your packages soon


Microsoft’s Windows 10 technical preview is getting a lot of attention since its announcing two days ago, and slowly but surely new things are being uncovered as enthusiasts start looking under the hood of this new OS.

We all know that Cortana will make her way into Windows 10, and although we don’t have the privilege to try out the Windows 10 version of Microsoft’s personal assistant, it doesn’t stop us from finding out possible Cortana features in this early build of the OS.

Cortana assets pertaining to tracking packages have been discovered in the Windows 10 technical preview, there’s a bingconfiguration-en-us resource file that was found which clearly states ‘parcel delivery’ beside features we already have with Cortana in Windows Phone.

Cortana package tracker

This is a clear indication the feature is most likely on its way, and will very likely work in the same fashion as the way Cortana tracks your flight information-by scanning your email for tracking number automatically.

Cortana has a very important role to play for Microsoft as she represents a true vision of what a digital personal assistant should be like, representing the best in what Microsoft has to offer in both machine learning and search. If Cortana is executed correctly on Windows 10 we can expect that word of mouth will spread on just how powerful of a personal assistant Microsoft has created with such a large user base Windows 10 will have.

This can really help put Windows Phone in to people’s minds as they may want the same experience on mobile, which could significantly benefit Microsoft’s entire ecosystem, as long as Microsoft doesn’t release Cortana on iOS and Android by then.

Source:  Neowin

Cortana embarrasses Siri in two new ads

Cortana is a unique and very capable digital personal assistant, and Microsoft really wants to show off her capabilities.  Although they’ve been on a roll with Cortana VS Siri ads recently, it appears that they intend to keep them going  as they try to show the world that Cortana is the superior personal assistant.

In these latest ads, Microsoft shows off Cortana’ s capability to do people based reminders, and the ability to being up an alert for an appointment  based on  traffic.  These features can be extremely useful, and the fact that Siri has been around much longer than Cortana and still can’t perform these tasks really demonstrates how rapidly Microsoft is evolving Cortana.

Although these ads are very short being 20 seconds in length, its just the amount of time to show off a single feature which Microsoft hopes will stick with the viewer.