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Cortana to take on Siri in iOS

tech Updated: Nov 07, 2015 11:46 IST

Cortana is Microsoft’s voice-controlled personal assistant.(AFP)

Microsoft is preparing to launch a first version of Cortana, its virtual personal assistant, for iOS. Windows Insiders (a community which tests new Windows products) in the US and China will be able to test a beta version of the app.

Launched in 2014, Cortana is a virtual personal assistant developed by Microsoft for Windows Phone. It’s an app that is theoretically able to find the right information at the right time and to make recommendations based on the user’s preferences. Over time, Cortana gets to know the user better and its answers become more user-specific. It is possible to interact at any time with Cortana using the spoken word or by typing a message.

Cortana for iOS will not be exactly the same as Cortana for Windows 10. For example, you will not be able to begin interacting with the usual “Hey Cortana”. Since this summer, a public beta version of Cortana has been available to Android smartphone owners, but only in English.

Cortana for iOS is not likely to be available to the general public for several months. It will then be competing with other virtual personal assistants, including Siri.

Apple launched the first virtual personal assistant, which it named Siri, on the iPhone 4s at the end of 2011. This app, which is only available for iOS, also responds to the spoken word. Theoretically, Siri can respond to any verbal request, such as operating the device in which it is installed, answering questions about the weather, searching for a word on Wikipedia, etc.

However, Siri is not the only virtual personal assistant available for iOS, as Google Now is another option. It is linked to search history, calendar, e-mails and location so it can offer more precise answers to queries. This enables it to tell users about news relating to subjects of interest to them, or even recommend a new film or album based on their preferences.

Meanwhile, a report also surfaced this week suggesting that Microsoft could have a Cortana-based wearable in the works. According to Wareable, a device known for now as Clip could be a ‘hearable’ for consumers, essentially putting Microsoft’s personal assistant in the wearer’s ear.