Cortana Stories August 15, 2019

Microsoft contractors are still listening to some requests made to its Cortana intelligent assistant, as well as some Skype calls.

The revelation follows decisions by Apple, Google, and Facebook to suspend their human review processes for now, and Amazon giving Alexa users the ability to opt-out

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Cortana Stories December 8, 2016

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Microsoft’s suite of apps on iOS are constantly expanding, and today the company has announced that yet another of its famous desktop apps is making its way to Apple’s mobile platform ─ Visio.

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Cortana Stories May 30, 2016

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When the original developers of Siri jumped ship to develop a competing intelligent assistant called Viv, they dismissed Apple’s implementation of their intelligent assistant as just ‘a clever AI chatbot.’ We’ve since heard that Apple plans to offer a Siri SDK that will allow it to call on the capabilities of third-party apps (something I called for last year) – but it seems like the company is also seeking to go even beyond Viv’s capabilities.

Apple last year acquired British intelligent assistant developer VocalIQ – a tool specifically geared to truly conversational queries – and a source who spoke to Business Insider gave some insight into just how intelligent Siri could become when infused with this tech …

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Cortana Stories March 10, 2016

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In a blog post long on words but short on specifics, wireless speaker firm Sonos has announced that it will be increasingly focusing on support for streaming music services – but also moving into voice control. CEO John Macfarlane says that in the immediate term, the company will need to layoff employees as part of its refocusing plans.

Macfarlane hints at a possible collaboration with Amazon, using Alexa, the company’s competitor to Siri.

We’re fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. Voice recognition isn’t new; today it’s nearly ubiquitous with Siri, OK Google, and Cortana. But the Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform …

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Cortana Stories December 9, 2015

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Microsoft has been offering the iOS version of its intelligent assistant Cortana as a small-scale beta since last month, and it’s now ready to go live. Cortana is available on the App Store now.

Don’t expect it to match Siri for functionality, however – with Siri deeply embedded into iOS and Cortana a mere app, it will have limited capabilities, but you can at least see how it compares when it comes to answering questions …

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Cortana Stories November 9, 2015

Siri beats out Google Now and Cortana in survey, with 81% user satisfaction rating

A survey in which Siri, Google Now and Cortana users were asked to rate their satisfaction with their respective intelligent assistants found that Siri got the highest scores, with 81% of users declaring themselves satisfied compared to 68% for Google Now and just 57% for Cortana.

Survey participants were also asked to try out seven different requests and report on how well their service performed, as well as to note how many times they were asked follow-up questions. Siri had the lowest percentage of incorrect answers, and also asked fewer follow-up questions before it was able to carry out the task or answer the question.

Siri is definitely a feature that polarises users – some (like me) extremely satisfied with it, while I know others who report getting better results with Google Now. Microsoft is allowing a small number of iOS users to try out a beta version of Cortana for the iPhone.

Siri got the highest satisfaction score for setting an appointment, and the lowest for the question ‘When does Kung Fu Panda 3 come out?’.

You can see full details at the Experts Exchange site.

Siri’s latest trick is speaking Arabic, following the Apple Store openings in the UAE.

Cortana Stories November 4, 2015

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If you’re curious to see how Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana compares to Siri, you may be able to take it for a test-drive. Microsoft says that it has completed internal testing of Cortana for iOS and is now seeking beta testers.

Cortana is with you on your Windows 10 PC, tablet, and phone—helping you whenever and wherever you need it. But we also know that there’s a choice of mobile devices out there, so we want help from our Windows Insiders to make sure she’s a great personal assistant on iOS too. We’re looking for a limited number of people to get their hands on an early version of the […] Cortana for iOS beta … 

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Cortana Stories August 25, 2015

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A week after Parallels was updated to support Windows 10, VMware has followed suit with an update to its Fusion software – but with a bug when used in Unity mode. Unity mode is where Windows apps are run alongside Mac ones.

Fusion was today updated to version 8, with performance improvements as well as Windows 10 compatibility, but the company has confirmed a bug identified by ArsTechnica in which the Windows Start screen is sometimes unavailable (above left) and at other times has the search bar covered by the Mac’s dock (above right). When unavailable, the Toggle Start Screen option is greyed-out …  expand full story

Cortana Stories August 18, 2015

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Parallels, the company behind the popular virtual machine software, has today released the latest iteration of its popular Mac app. Parallels 11 ($79.99 retail, $49.99 upgrade) is available now with many of the features that were accidentally leaked by the company last month. Top features are of course support for both Windows 10 including Cortana and OS X El Capitan, as well as a variety of enhancements that improve the virtualization experience…

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Cortana Stories May 26, 2015

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Reuters reported back in March that Microsoft planned to bring its Siri competitor Cortana to iOS, and Microsoft has now officially confirmed this in a blog post.

Today, we’re announcing a Cortana application for Android phones and for iPhones which works as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC. The ‘Phone Companion’ app on the PC will help you install the Cortana app from the Google Play or Apple App Store onto your phone so you’ll be able to take the intelligence of Cortana with you, wherever you go […]

The Cortana companion will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year.

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While Microsoft is pitching the app as a companion to a Windows PC, it appears that most of the functionality will work in the iPhone app without the need for a Windows device, Microsoft saying that you can “make the same queries, ask the same questions” in the standalone app …  expand full story

Cortana Stories March 13, 2015

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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 …  expand full story

Cortana Stories January 21, 2015

Microsoft will give away Windows 10 … just like OS X

Image via Brad Sams

Microsoft announced today at its Windows 10 briefing that it will make the next major version of its operating system free for consumers. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for for the first year for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 users. Users who upgrade will continue to have access to the latest versions for free when using the same device. For comparison, Apple has offered updates to each of its software updates, including major operating system versions, for free since 2013 with the release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks for the Mac.

Cortana Stories November 21, 2014

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Microsoft has released yet another Cortana advertisement that mocks Siri for lacking contextual reminders and real-time traffic reports. Microsoft pokes fun at the personal voice assistant by claiming that it “just got bigger,” a sarcastic reference to the larger screen sizes on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Perhaps the Redmond-based company is overlooking all of the new features Siri gained in iOS 8. expand full story

Cortana Stories November 7, 2014

Say Play iOS app makes music streaming as easy as speaking the name of the track

You’ve long been able to tell Siri to play any track on your iPhone, and the Say Play app gives you the same ability with music you don’t own. Just open the app, hit the red button and speak the name of the track.

To be sure, you could do a voice search in YouTube, but the app appears to simultaneously search several music video sources, and continues to play the track while you’re using other apps. As you’d expect from an app powered by Nuance, voice-recognition is faultless, and in my brief tests it was lightning-fast.

The app costs $0.99 on iTunes.

Cortana Stories October 29, 2014

Microsoft expected to announce Office for Mac timing “very soon,” release rumored for early 2015

Following yesterday’s leaked screenshots of a new version of Office for Mac, ZDNet is reporting that its contacts have told it that Microsoft will announce timings for the new edition of Office for Mac “very soon.”

The company also is expected to disclose timing and possibly a public preview of its next Office for Mac release very soon, as well […] The latest rumored release target for the next Office for Mac is early 2015.

Yesterday’s report suggested a flattened look,  support for Retina screens and integration with Notification Center.

Cortana Stories September 24, 2014

Nokia continues the Siri bashing w/ new Lumia ads showing off Cortana

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Nokia, like the rest of the smartphone industry, is no stranger to mocking its biggest competitor in ads. Today we get two new spots posted to the company’s YouTube account that highlight the Windows Phone Cortana assistant feature while mocking Apple’s Siri feature in the process.

The first ad called “Lost” highlights Cortana’s ability to automatically remind users when to leave for appointments based of calendar and traffic data. The second spot, titled “Remind Me”, shows Cortana sending reminder notifications associated with texts and calls they are receiving.

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Nokia isn’t the only company iPhone bashing today, BlackBerry just wrapped up its Passport launch event where it took time to compare the device directly to the iPhone 6 on stage.

Cortana Stories July 28, 2014

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Microsoft ads seem to make a habit of bashing Apple, even using Siri’s voice to do so – and without the company concerning itself too much about accuracy. Microsoft has now released the 30-second commercial it first showed at its developer’s conference back in April …  expand full story

Cortana Stories April 2, 2014

Microsoft’s ‘Cortana’ Siri-clone shows the potential of third party app integration for the personal assistant

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At its BUILD conference, Microsoft officially unveiled its personal assistant for Windows Phone named Cortana. The similarities to Siri are rather uncanny (and three years late) but in some areas, Siri could definitely learn from Cortana’s feature set.

Cortana certainly does a good job of cloning Siri’s appearance and functionality. However, it goes further by allowing third-party applications to do tasks and answer questions as well. For instance, you can ask Cortana to add a film to your Hulu watch list with natural language.

Cortana Stories March 3, 2014

Does this animation look familiar to you? Microsoft’s answer to Siri revealed

The Verge provides a first look at the animation for Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri. While it’s a still photo rather than a video, it seems pretty clear how the circular animation works … can anyone think of where they’ve seen anything like that before?

Cortana – named after the AI character in the Microsoft game Halo – is set to appear in the forthcoming 8.1 update to Windows Phone. The feature looks like a relatively direct Siri clone, with some features borrowed from Google Now – such as the ability to scan your emails for things like flight numbers and plans to schedule meetings.

It’s not yet known whether Cortana will be the public name of the feature, or just an internal codename.

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