Back in the day we used to refer to our electronic devices as PDAs — Personal Digital Assistants. They weren’t. In fact, they weren’t much more than battery-operated day planners, the paper versions of which were in style around the turn of the century.
Today these devices have given way to Internet-connected smartphones that are finally starting to include the ability to complete core tasks via voice-assisted input. Apple has Siri. Google has Google Now. Finally, Microsoft has Cortana.
Some feel that this personalized and voice-responsive component finally brings the “assistant” to Personal Digital Assistant, but Michael Fisher feel’s they’re more like “cybernetic sidekicks“. I can’t say that I disagree, not completely anyway. But Cortana could change all that.
Siri versus Google Now
Whenever someone starts showing off their iPhone, I try to at least feign interest. “Oh yeah? That’s the new one, right? It’s got that Siri thing, doesn’t it?” Most people haven’t used Siri yet, so I like to have a little fun with them. “I think my Android has a voice thing, too. Let’s see which one works better.”
From there we press the “listen” buttons on our phones at the same time and one of us asks a question of both devices. Almost every single time, Google Now wins in speed. About three quarters of the time the Google Now answer is better than Siri’s. If I can leave that person questioning their choice and wondering why they didn’t save a chunk of change by buying a Nexus 5, my work there is done.
I know, it’s a dirty game. As long as you know how both solutions work, you can exploit that unfair advantage in your favor. Both Google Now and Siri have a long way yet to go.
Nonetheless, messing with new iPhone users is still fun.
Who is Cortana?
Both Siri and Google Now have their strong points — they also have their weak points. That’s where Cortana steps in.
I first got to know Cortana through my neural interface when she helped me prepare to battle the Covenant. She helped me through all sorts of trials, and even helped me escape The Flood.
Okay, may that might have been a series of games, but her usefulness and assistance was unquestionable, nonetheless! Her advice was always timely and helpful!
I’m certain that’s what Microsoft is aiming for by bringing her to life inside Windows Phone 8.1 — but she doesn’t have to stay there!
Cortana on Android
Cortana is poised to be the voice and digital interface to Microsoft’s search offerings. Hopefully the reach of her influence will expand from Windows Phone and Halo to Bing — and the Bing app for Android.
Google Now is great, don’t get me wrong, but Cortana offers lots of benefits that the others simply don’t have. If you ask Cortana to remind you of something the next time you talk to someone, you’ll get a subtle but clear reminder right when you need it.
That simple yet brilliant approach can be found all through the “Cortana experience” on Windows Phone 8.1. The biggest advantage Cortana has over the others (other than a computer-generated body designed to make grown men swoon) is the fact that Cortana has an API that can be utilized by third-party developers to help enable all those features in any app that ties in to those programming hooks.
Sure, she’s currently in beta, but she’ll get better. If Microsoft can bring all of that to Android via the Bing app, Google’s going to have a run for its money!
Want to learn more about Windows Phone 8.1? Just can’t get enough of Cortana? Luckily Pocketnow has got plenty of articles about the new technology, and even some hands on videos that you won’t want to miss!
Image Credits: Bungie Studios