Microsoft is planning on making the next generation of its Siri competitor, Cortana, available on iOS and Android devices sometime after the fall, reports Reuters. The focus, says the company, will be on an intelligent assistant that predicts the help you need, rather than simply responding to user requests.
Cortana could tell a mobile phone user when to leave for the airport, days after it read an email and realized the user was planning a flight. It would automatically check flight status, determine where the phone is located using GPS, and checking traffic conditions.
Google has majored on this kind of proactive approach through its Google Now service, which aims to work out what you will want to know when, and Apple began implementing similar functionality into the Today view in Notification Center in iOS 7, but Microsoft believes that integrating everything into the digital assistant is the future …
Microsoft aims to launch the advanced version of Cortana first in Windows 10, in the fall, with iOS and Android apps to follow.
Microsoft believes its work on speech recognition, search and machine learning will let it transform its digital assistant into the first intelligent ‘agent’ which anticipates users needs. By comparison, Siri is advertised mostly as responding to requests.
Microsoft’s head of research Eric Horvitz claims that the company is “defining the competitive landscape” of intelligent digital assistants, arguing that while none of the individual elements are new, bringing everything together through Cortana represents a breakthrough.
Microsoft has made a habit of mocking Siri in Cortana ads, largely focusing in the lack of contextual reminders. But this latest move may represent recognition that Windows Phone has little or no future (check out this interesting opinion piece on Mashable), and that Cortana’s only chance of survival is on rival devices.
Apple is of course expanding the role of Siri, using it within both car and home environments. Siri is the key to Apple describing CarPlay as a “smarter, safer way to use your phone in the car,” and HomeKit will allow voice control of home automation devices like heating, cooking, lighting and door locks.