Cortana : Is Microsoft Ready For a Catfight With Siri
Siri with her lovely voice introduced the concept of personal assistants (PA) on phones. It was the closest people could get to own their own JARVIS and wasn’t she one snarky lady. Google tried to match up to her, but they could only muster up a personality less voice.
Microsoft is now bringing its answer to Siri and this woman comes directly from the world of Halo. She has been called one of the sexiest women in video game history and GameTrailers put her in the “top 10 babes who are out of your league” list (which for gamers is probably every woman ever.) She was originally based on the Egyptian princess Nerfititi and her name is CORTANA.
Microsoft sure released an impressive introduction video for her:
Cortana was the name Microsoft used during the development process of the app. But as the developers themselves had been in love with her during their endless sessions of Halo, they pressured Microsoft to let the name be for the Artificial Intelligence infused, Windows phone 8.1 personal assistant app.
What Microsoft is really banking on though is Cortana’s ability to “chitchat” with the user. It reminds you of Scarlett Johansson-voiced character Samantha, from the movie ‘Her’. Though don’t get your hopes up yet or be discouraged that she will leave you like Samantha (or Scarlett) left Joaquin Phoenix, because Cortana is just starting out. If Microsoft’s history is to be considered, she will at most disappear behind a blue screen of death (tsk.)
The personality of Cortana is directly inspired by her AI counterpart in Halo. ‘363 Industries’ which produces Halo, was roped in to provide the backstory and character elements for the PA app. These character elements may be what gives Cortana the edge over Siri. Even if its just the predetermined responses, Cortana can carry out a flowy conversation with its user. Maybe someday she will evolve into a personal associate rather than just a personal assistant.
On the Utility front, Cortana (I am trying to use less pronouns for ‘her’ because that’s one sexy name) provides all the functions that Siri and Google Now offer; like setting reminders and calendar, weather and traffic information, writing notes and messages.
The Siri update in the iOS 8 hasn’t been a significant one. Apple has focused more on the interconnectivity element of the OS. They have also integrated Shazam with Siri with other minor tweaks to the app.
This might actually work in Microsoft’s favor. If the users are really able to have a conversation with an Artificially Intelligent PA and enjoy it, they wouldn’t really care about Shazam integration of Siri. For once, Microsoft might take a page out of Apple’s book of taking inspirations from existing technology and turning into revolutionary new idea. Cortana also looks beautiful with the two concentric circles which gets her activated.
Though Cortana doesn’t have natural conversational ability like Samantha, but somehow her semi-robotic voice has its own sex appeal. Microsoft has plans to bring Cortana to countries like UK and China though that would involve going back to recreating the database for a whole new language or accent. That bet will only payout if she performs as per her marketing hype.
As we don’t have access to her yet, we will wait to give you in-depth updates on whether Cortana can be your next best companion.