In a concerted effort to turn its mobile fortunes around, Microsoft seems to be taking the logical step of hand-picking some of the best features of both Android and iOS, amounting to an increasingly exciting Windows Phone 8.1 update. We’ve already heard that a new Swype-like keyboard will enhance the typing experience on the Redmond’s mobile ecosystem, and following yesterday’s video demo of the new Action Center notifications system, it has today become apparent that Cortana, the voice assistant feature set to debut with WP 8.1, will combine some of the strengths of both Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
Cortana, for those who didn’t play Halo, is the name of the voice assistant to Master Chief, the protagonist of the first few titles in the franchise. Since Halo is such an iconic series, it makes sense for the already-popular name be reused by Microsoft’s mobile division, but while we’re definitely sold on the moniker, the only thing we’re really concerned about is whether Cortana will be of any use.
Both Siri and Google Now are well established, and Microsoft’s Cortana could capitalize by essentially copying the best features of each. The Bing Search feature, for example, may be displaced by a new animated Cortana icon, and in much the same vein as Apple’s Siri, will offer something vaguely remnant of a personality.
Siri learns the name of a user, and does, as much as binary can, manage to hold a conversation. With this in mind, it is thought that Cortana will continue the kind of personification that she / it enjoyed during the Halo series, providing insightful, often witty responses.
The entire system will be based around a feature called Notebook, which will reportedly contain such information as calendar, location and contact data, and with the ability to learn how you use your device, will subsequently adjust and adapt its behavior to better suit your needs.
With third-party support also said to be a feature of Cortana, it would certainly be a lot more versatile than both Siri and Google Now, and if the Windows maker can get its act together and have this thing ready by April’s BUILD announcement of Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft’s digital skivvy could leapfrog both of its major rivals in the mobile game.
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