Ever since Apple debuted Siri, others in the mobile arena have been trying to create their own smart personal assistants. We’ve been hearing about Microsoft’s Cortana for a while now and recent reports suggest that it will be shipped with the Windows Phone 8.1 update.
Microsoft has officially refused to acknowledge the imminent arrival of a Windows Phone 8.1 update. The company has further shied away from revealing any details about this update. But a number of recent leaks have shown that Microsoft is packing a whole plethora of new features in Windows Phone 8.1.
Notable among them is Microsoft’s virtual, personal assistant ‘Cortana.’ Last year, it became known that Microsoft was working on the said personal assistant and now, it would appear that Cortana is ready for an initial launch. As a start, Cortana will come with a circular, animated icon which will carry the same hue as the color of your Windows Phone handset. Unlike Apple’s static icon of Siri, Cortana’s animated image will move and express emotions when responding to your queries.
Moreover, it will replace the built-in Bing functionality in Windows Phone handsets. Microsoft is backing the personal assistant up with a number of its services such as Bing and Foursquare. But the company needs to do more to bring the contextual analysis of Cortana at par with other rivals such as Siri or more importantly, Google Now.
One very interesting feature which will reportedly be a part of Cortana is Notebook. Think of it as a privacy stopgap which gives you, the user, complete control over what kind of personal data Cortana is able to access and use. Personal assistants typically need a lot of your data to know your habits, note the trends, discern the kind of things you are looking for and in general, return you accurate search results. But this also raises privacy concerns, especially since personal assistants have to store all of this data for future use.
So the Notebook feature in Cortana is very reassuring because it lets you see what kind of location data, reminders, contact details and personal information is accessed by the personal assistant. Moreover, you can directly access the Notebook and edit or delete any information that Cortana has already accessed.
Naturally, the real litmus test for the performance of Cortana is that how easily and successfully it is able to understand natural language. Apple’s Siri is wildly popular because it can instantly understand what a human user is saying in natural language. If Cortana is able to pull off a similar feat, it will quickly position itself as a worthy Siri contender.
Source: The Verge