Personal assistant or voice recognition service has become an important feature that users expect in a smartphone. Apple was the first company to launch such a service with its own personal assistant ‘Siri’. Google then followed and rolled out Google Now. Now, according to reports from Zdnet, Microsoft is testing a new plan to release Cortana, a new voice-enabled personal assistant program, by early 2014. The name should be familiar to fans of the Halo video game series on the Xbox.
The Siri-like feature, codenamed ‘Cortana’ will let Windows Phone users interact with a handset through voice commands. The Verge reports (via ZDNet) that evidence of the feature first surfaced in June via a leaked screenshot. The phone reportedly came with an early build of a Windows Phone OS, which contained an app listed as ‘zCortana’. The software is based on the knowledge database that powers Bing, called Satori. Unlike Siri, Cortana will become more central to the Windows operating system experience.
The Verge also posted a few screenshots of Cortana, revealing how Microsoft is testing weather information, local information, notifications, access to Bluetooth controls and calendar events under a ‘single central interface’. It is also being said that Cortana will be able to learn from individual users and adapt to their preferences automatically.
Senior Microsoft officials have been hinting that such an assistant is inbound for a while now. In his memo announced earlier this year, CEO Steve Ballmer wrote, “Our machine-learning infrastructure will understand people’s needs and what is available in the world, and will provide information and assistance. We will be great at anticipating needs in people’s daily routines and providing insight and assistance when they need it.”
Windows Phone users keen to get chatty with Cortana will have to be patient as some Microsoft executives have reportedly said the new virtual assistant might not appear for another couple of years. Though hopefully it will arrive in 2014 with the the expected launch of Windows 8.1. The details about Cortana are still not much to comment about, however, we can say that Microsoft is joining the voice assistant party a bit late.
Image Courtesy | theverge