Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant created by Microsoft for Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 10 Mobile (where it now supersedes Bing Mobile), Microsoft Band, Xbox One, Windows 10, iOS and Android. It was demonstrated for the first time at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference (April 2–4, 2014) in San Francisco.
It has been launched as a key ingredient of Microsoft’s planned “makeover” of the future operating systems for Windows Phone and Windows. It is named after Cortana, a synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game franchise originating in Bungie folklore, with Jen Taylor, the character’s voice actress, returning to voice the personal assistant’s US-specific version.
After last year’s big splashes with Windows 10 and HoloLens, this year’s Microsoft Build was more incremental. Though Microsoft didn’t release or announce a new version of Windows at the event, or even any new hardware, it did give us a look at what’s coming up in the so called Anniversary Update of Windows 10, due out this summer.
More Powerful Cortana in Windows 10 Anniversary Update :
Cortana gets a major update in the latest version of Windows 10. The clever voice assistant can now intelligently understand time, so will understand when you ask for “the PowerPoint presentation I was working on previous day.” The smart voice assistant also works better with third-party apps, so you can ask the voice assistant to order to food and it will quietly place your order within Just Eat. The omnipresent assistant now lives in the redesigned Skype messaging app.
Not only does Cortana-become more proactive, suggesting more things such as where to have lunch if you’re in an unfamiliar city (since you’ve told her your cuisine preferences), but she’ll appear in more places on the system, such as the lock screen and within Skype as a bot conversation. Cortana-on the lock screen is a tricky topic for privacy, but Microsoft reps say you’ll have to specifically allow her, for example, to show info from your calendar appointments.
One intriguing new Cortana-capability that wasn’t discussed much at the conference was system control through-Cortana. “Hey-Cortana, shut down the PC!” doesn’t work now, but a video shown at Build suggests it will in the Anniversary Update. One wonders if that also means the digital assistant will be able to change system settings, like “Turn off Wi-Fi” or “Check for Updates.”
Cortana-now taps into more third-party apps for answers and actions. If you’ve used her, you know she can easily get Yelp and TripAdvisor info, but the company has launched a new “Better with Cortana” section in the Windows app store, and says nearly 1,000 apps now integrate with-Cortana. So go ahead, say, “Cortana, get me an Uber car!”
One of the biggest new features will be the ability to sync notifications across devices. This is something we’ve seen with third-party apps like Pushbullet. If you switch between devices a lot, you know how annoying it can be to see duplicate notifications all day. It will also allow you to reply to SMS messages from your Windows 10 PC. Once again, this is a feature we’ve seen from apps like Pushbullet.
image credits “PCMAG Digital Group”
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