Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s highly-rated Siri personal assistant. Originally created for Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, it is designed to get things done for you the easier way and keep you on top of latest happenings and things that need to be attended to – just like an efficient human personal assistant would do – by simply speaking to it.
Development work on Cortana started in 2009 and the process involved interviewing human personal assistants, with these interviews serving as inspiration for some features in the eventual software.
The digital personal assistant was demonstrated for the first time during the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference in San Francisco in April 2014. Cortana’s natural language-processing capabilities are attributed to Microsoft-acquired Tellme Networks, with support provided by a semantic search database known as Satoru.
The software’s name is derived from a synthetic intelligent character in its maker’s Halo video game franchise.
Cortana is also integrated into Microsoft’s new browser, the Microsoft Edge. The software will also be integrated to other apps in future.
Parallel 11 makes Cortana available on Mac computers, bringing the service to Mac even before Apple’s own Siri.
What Help Can Cortana Render?
Cortana is ready to assist when needed like a loyal personal assistant. Similar to Siri, this Microsoft digital personal assistant can help you make a call or send an SMS to specific contacts on your phone by simply talking to it.
In addition, you can direct Cortana to find you places, pull latest sport scores, get weather information, keep track of your appointments and source for latest news, among other tasks.
Interestingly, Cortana comes with natural language processing technology, which means you can chat with the digital personal assistant like a friend and even ask it to tell you a joke.
Once configured, just say ‘Hey, Cortana’ to call the attention of the assistant. The software has a Notebook feature which you use to set your interests, favourite songs, favourite places and some other information that can help the personal assistant do its work well.
Cortana also has a quiet hours and inner circle feature that lets you restrict calls when busy and specify whose calls to allow.
Compatibility and Language Support
Cortana is built to run on Windows Phone, Windows 10 and Microsoft Band platforms. It is expected to be available for Xbox One by November as well as for iOS and Android later this year.
In addition to English, it is available in French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Italian. Cortana is not available in every country. For now the personal assistant is limited to United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
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