Microsoft has announced its Virtual Personal Assistant, Cortana as part of Windows Phone 8.1 (WP8.1) at Microsoft Build Developer Conference where Cortana exclusively stole the show.
Humans are always excited about talking to machines and that excitement has brought Human-Computer Interaction to the level that we already have some nice Virtual personal assistants like Apple Siri and Google Now and more than that, Her’s Samantha, and now we got Cortana from Microsoft.
What is Cortana?
For Game Junkies, the name Cortana might not be new and for others, Cortana is the Personal Assistant of Master Chief in video game series Halo but for the question “why did Microsoft chose Cortana as the name for their Personal Assistant?” – This Petition signed by thousands can answer better than me and the voice of Cortana in Windows Phone belongs to Jen Taylor who’s behind the actual Halo Cortana’s voice.
Why does Microsoft need Cortana?
Windows Phone Operating System, since its arrival has no charming software feature – except big Camera equipped smartphone, WP has got nothing to attract existing iOS and Android users. Most of the user base that WP got is mainly because of the brand name ‘Nokia’ and others are the users frustrated because of iOS or Android and landed in WP because they had no choice (obviously Blackberry will never be a choice) and till now Microsoft hasn’t got anything special for that but now with Cortana, Microsoft has spelt the magic words correctly. Yes! Cortana is capable of attracting new users from iOS and Android community. Though the fanboys are hard to acquire, the neutrals can switch to Windows Phone and Cortana will do it for Microsoft.
What is Cortana capable of?
In simple terms, Cortana is a perfect combination of Google Now and Siri but Cortana is what if Google Now is cute and Siri is more intelligent.
Yes, Google Now is great in bringing results – It’s more accurate, faster and sharper than Siri which is the pioneer in Smartphone-based PA but the problem with Google Now is that it’s not cute – it’s not the personal assistant that everyone wants to have – it’s just an improved Search methodology that’s capable of NLP with more access to the Android device that we own but it has never showcased the charm to be a beautiful-cute-lovable personal assistant whereas Siri on the other hand has all the necessary qualities to become a perfect PA – Siri is cute (cuter than Cortana), brilliant, quick, listens properly but Siri is brilliant enough – not as clever as Google, that might not be a problem from Apple because Google has got Knowledge Graph to bring right results but Apple doesn’t have its own Search engine or Big data rather it uses Wolfram Alpha and Bing to power Siri so Siri is not that clever.
And here comes Cortana with a circular bluish icon, Cortana looks beautiful and the way it interacts, listens to the master (device owner) – it’s cute and Yes, It’s brilliant too, cleverer than Siri because Siri can’t make perfect conversations because it doesn’t remember the result of the previous question or any noun in previous question and when we talk with pronouns, Siri is just blank but this new comer Cortana gets that right, It understands that the pronoun refers to the previous noun so it’s pretty conversational and that gives Cortana a big edge than Siri. Not only this but there are a lot other things that Cortana can do which Siri can’t.
Another big thing about Cortana is that she has got a personal notebook to record all the information about her Master but the Master has control to read and modify the content in the notepad which makes Cortana to understand more about her master. Unlike Siri, Cortana accepts queries in text and also replies in text which is really useful in both extremely noisy place and places where extreme silence is required. IFTTT-type requests, Better Search results, Deep Phone Integration, Third-party apps accessibility are some other nice features of Cortana.
Microsoft has not only studied Siri and Google Now but also interacted with real-world Personal Assistants and that’s how they made Cortana much better (Yes, It is!) than both these existing Personal Assistants. But remember Cortana is just born and is yet to land in the hands of common but Siri debuted (with most of these features) in iPhone 4S almost 3 years ago so it’d be interesting to see how all these three biggies – Apple, Google and Microsoft – are taking their Personal Assistants to the next level of Future so now the real Game begins!