No, unfortunately those of you who share my young childhood obsession with the Halo franchise will be disappointed to know this is not ‘that Cortana.’ Fans of the popular Microsoft brand Halo series for the Xbox know Cortana to be the female AI and counterpart to its central character Master Chief. Her character is one of the most important in the series and the unparalleled success of the Halo franchise has allowed her to become a household name to many in the video game and tech industry.
Thus fans of the game will have some part of their dream of seeing Cortana come to life realized just a little bit sooner. The other day video was released of a new feature on the upcoming Microsoft windows 8.1 phone showing off ‘Cortana.’ Cortana looks to be an optional built in personal assistant AI to help you browse the internet and work your phone. Essentially, Cortana looks to be the answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now. While Microsoft hasn’t let anything official yet slip (they’re apparently waiting for a conference next month to officially unveil it) it seems that Microsoft is looking to rival and best Siri in the phone market.
While no real details of the product have been revealed or announced and the video doesn’t add much info I think this creates an interesting discussion for the future of AI and personal assistants. Siri has been around for more than two years now but aside from a boost in speed she hasn’t received any substantial overhauls. Same goes for Google Now. While it’s been successful in its programming, it has worked its way up in the shadows similar to Google Plus and hasn’t created a large following. This could create the opportunity for Microsoft to come in with Cortana and set the bar high for personal AI assistants.
At the same time I ask myself the question of “do I really need this?” For me I just found out the other day that Siri will read you texts, and I’ve had the option to for over two years. I don’t think anyone really fully utilizes Siri for her services other than dumb gags and when you’re too lazy to talk. The personal interface of the cell phone has continued to rise but the verbal side of the interface has stayed mostly stagnant. Whether that begs the need for a new interface or provides proof that this interface is unnecessary is inconclusive. Personally, Cortana would have to provide me with something completely new and different in order to sell me on its worth, otherwise it might be just another feature on a phone in a market that’s already been saturated by its sparkly features.
– Foley, M Jo. (2014, March 4). Watch Cortana, Microsoft’s rival to Siri and Google Now. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57619905-75/watch-cortana- microsofts-rival-to-siri-and-google-now/