A Reuters report suggests that Microsoft could release its Cortana – a planned artificial intelligence personal assistance in the likes of the popular Siri – as a stand-alone application that could be available for use on competing Google and Apple operating systems.
Currently available in a beta state for Windows Phone 8.1 users, Cortana is expected to have a full worldwide release together with Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS, for both smartphones and desktops. The report states that a stand-alone release is planned a couple of months later, which would see the personal assistant available for purchase on iOS and Android app stores.
An interview with Microsoft Research director Eric Horvitz also shed some lights on planned functionality details for Cortana, which would see the A.I. assistant completing more complex tasks than Apple’s Siri.
Cortana is being developed using research from a program called Project Einstein, and some of its stated groundbreaking features revolve over the A.I. being able to plan the user’s activities according to information taken from e-mails. Using a plane flight example, Horvitz explained how Cortana can announce the user when to leave for the airport to arrive exactly on time by analyzing traffic conditions, his distance to the airport and delays of scheduled flights.
Microsoft had already announced in November last year that it will not make Cortana restricted to its Windows operating system, but no reports at the time suggested that this would include its main competitors in the smartphone and tablet markets.
This strategy might be meant to combat its inferiority to Google and Apple in the tablet and smartphone market share, with a recent report showing that just 5% of shipped tablets in 2015 ran on Windows. The company has also made its Office suite available on iOS and Android.
Cortana itself takes its name from a virtual artificial intelligence character from the popular Halo video game series, with character voice actress Jen Taylor also providing the voice for the personal assistant. This represented a smart move for Microsoft’s personal assistant application to gain instant popularity, with the video games series having sold over 60 million units in its more than 10 year history and the character being widely popular amongst its fans
Image Source: The Verge