Ladies and Gentlemen, Microsoft’s New Voice Controlled PA, Cortana

Microsoft has come up with its own Window’s phone assistant and her name is Cortana. Since digital assistants are all the rage these days, here’s a look at what Cortana is all about, according to the latest science and technology news.

The Setup

Basically, Cortana is designed to learn about the user, and with intelligence that comes from Bing, language processing courtesy of Tellme, and the combined knowledge of Satori’s repository and Microsoft’s Cloud, Cortana can has the power to sense when you feel like taking a nap and silences your phone for you. To set her up, all the user needs to do is choose from some pre-defined categories, such as, headline news, health, sports, and technology. The user can also set their favorite sporting teams, or their favorite restaurant they usually have meals in. Cortana then delivers you information based on your likes and your current location. It can also make suggestions based on what you do and where you do it. the information is then stored in Cortana’s notebook which can be viewed as the equivalent of Google Now’s homescreen.

Cat Fight!

So, can Cortana hold her own against the likes of Google Now and Apple’s Siri? That’s the big question and one that we’ve got the answer for (the hard way). In a way Cortana is unique when it comes to artificial intelligence personal assistants, mainly because Microsoft took its time to study the others in the genre and just came up with a tweaked up version of the AI personal assistant, but how does it fare with the likes of Google Now and Siri?

Well, the first thing one would need to fix in their brain is that Cortana is in actuality, Microsoft’s own Bing search engine through and through. But don’t get us wrong, while Cortana does use the Bing platform, it is all Cortana, and while it’s no woman, it is female. This is actually Microsoft has shown its innovative genius, since Cortana is an extension of the Bing search engine it is a lot similar to Google Now which runs on Android devices. So, in other words, Cortana is able to recognize the stuff that interests you and then use Bing to mine the information you would need or find useful.

At the moment, there are only five 3rd party apps that are built for Cortana, and they are Hulu, Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Flixster. Microsoft has used a combination of cloud and on-device computation, for Cortana’s voice control function, which means that when you speak to Cortana, patterns of your speech are used to interpret your commands and if Cortana is unable to understand what you have said, it will reach out to its neural network to pick out possibilities. According to the latest science and technology news, this function actually helps Cortana learn and improve on its language interpretation and voice recognition functions over time. If you put the three head to head, Cortana and Google Now both have precognitive abilities which Siri doesn’t, but as far as functionality goes, Cortana clearly has the edge.

In a nutshell, Cortana has a personality of its own and because it’s voiced by the same actress of Halo, Jen Taylor, which means that you no longer have a robot like voice responding to your queries and on a side note, since there is an Halo element to Cortana, it is also capable of responding to any Halo related questions you might have.

Ending Note

In the end, the sole purpose of Microsoft to develop their own artificial intelligence personal assistant was to not only have a heads up on their rivals, but to also imbue their creation with a personality of its own and it seems like they’ve succeeded. That being said, it’s still a beta, which means that there might be more to expect when it is officially launched in the Microsoft Windows 8.1 phone which is due later on this year.

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