Back in April, Microsoft announced a huge update to its Windows 8 platform. Coming later this year, the company’s mobile operating system will get a bunch of new features, one of which is Microsoft’s answer to Siri. The Windows phone personal assistant, Cortana, will provide users with a similar function. Cortana will find out stuff for you, connect you to your contacts, keep track of your schedule, and let you know your flight information. She may even be a better virtual assistant than Siri, but don’t tell her (or him) I said that. My coffee may turn out gross tomorrow.
In a recent interview with Search Engine Land, Microsoft Windows Phone Group Program Manager noted that Cortana will work best when used across all devices and it is possible the personal assistant will be available on both iOS and Android sometime in the future.
At this year’s SMX Advanced conference, Microsoft demonstrated Cortana in the opening keynote address, which showed the personal assistant learning from the user’s activity in order to create a more customized and detailed experience. When asked about other platforms that Cortana might be seen on, Ash said:
“We want to scale Cortana internationally and across devices. The Android/iOS question is interesting. We’re asking, would Cortana be as effective if she didn’t have access to the details on your phone? We’re still trying to get Cortana adopted on Windows Phone and figure out what it wants to become there. But we’re actively talking about this,” [paraphrased by Search Engine Land].
The idea is that Cortana will work best when it is available to users in many different ways, instead of only on one phone.
Ash also pointed out that, if a virtual personal assistant is the reason a potential buyer chooses a phone, then Microsoft wants people on Windows phones, implying that competition may be the reason to keep Cortana exclusive.
Microsoft already made that mistake once when it assumed that people would buy Surface tablets specifically because it was the only way to use a mobile version of Office. After years of pushing for iOS availability, Microsoft finally admitted defeat and made the productivity suite available on iPad.
Based on the little information I know about Cortana so far, I’d love to see iOS integration. Again, keep this between us. Siri is a great personal assistant. I wouldn’t trade her for the world, but I might want a little additional help around the office and two assistants is better than one.