The gang of personal digital assistants adds another member with the upcoming rival of Siri - Cortana, by Microsoft.
Microsoft is purportedly rolling out the digital assistant with the update for the Windows Phone 8.1. People familiar to the matter have revealed to the Verge how Cortana will operate.
"While the feature is named after the Halo game series, Cortana will take the form of a circular animated icon instead of a female character. Cortana will animate when it's speaking or thinking, forming a personality not dissimilar to Apple's Siri," reported the Verge. "Just like Siri, Cortana will also allow Windows Phone users to set how they want to be addressed by the voice-activated assistant."
The idea about Cortana was first hinted at by then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in July last year. He said that Windows Phone will evolve to be deeply personalized on "almost magical, intelligence." He also pointed out that the system will be able to anticipate what users need and respond to these needs seamlessly.
Microsoft has remained mum about when the digital assistant will be released. It has neither confirmed nor denied if Cortana will be released along with the mobile OS update that is expected to come out next month. It is also not clear if it will really be called Cortana when it gets to consumers.
With a few tweaks on the settings of Cortana, the virtual assistant can call users by the nickname they prefer such as "Master Chief."
Just like how Ballmer described, the Siri competition can organize data and information using a Notebook system. This will help the software to quickly tap into reminders, personal information, contact information, data and essentially learn patterns to know how the user behaves and predict what the user might need based on how the phone is being used. Cortana can also remind the handset owner about scheduled flights and other important information that may have been mentioned in email exchanges. It will also be backed up by other services such as Foursquare and Bing to enhance its capabilities.
While Cortana will use the information in the Notebook to learn about the user, earlier reports have indicated that the Notebook feature also serves as a privacy protection for its user. Cortana will not drop into the Notebook without the go signal or permission of the owner. Likewise, any information in the Notebook can be deleted any time.
Will it be time to ask Siri, "Who is better, you or Cortana?"