Windows Phone

Microsoft announces Windows in the car

Microsoft has announced today that they are launching “Windows in the Car” as a competitor to apple’s Car Play. Microsoft is no stranger to in car entertainment systems and has been powering a number of manufacturers systems for years. But now, Microsoft is starting to look in creating its own solution, based on Windows Phone however with a lot of similarities to CarPlay.

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This announcement comes not long after Microsoft have also announced a competitor to Siri, making me think that Microsoft are ramping up the competition before apple’s latest product launch with the iPhone 5s this summer.

 

The system is currently still in the theory stage however the fact that Microsoft is thinking about going into direct competition with apple means they must be confident about its potential as a competitor to CarPlay.

The plans for the system currently mean that the car’s touch screen display would mirror the display of your smartphone, allowing it to display Maps, Texts and Caller ID in the same manner it would on your windows phone, hopefully just without the blue screens we are used to!

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Cortana is coming to Windows phone 8.1

CortanaMicrosoft has announced today that they will be launching a competitor to siri, the virtual assistant from apple. This new assistant from Microsoft is named Cortana after the Artificial Intelligence from the Halo series on xbox. Cortana was an advanced form of AI who actually controlled the entire spacecraft in the halo series, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 however has a little less power, but still sufficient to control the features of your mobile phone.

Cortana is powered by Microsoft’s own search engine Bing and sometimes this is very noticeable as if you happen to say anything that she doesn’t quite understand, you will find yourself redirected to a bing search for “text messages” when you really just wanted her to read out your new message!

Cortana is designed to learn about users by asking questions and monitoring user activity, interacting through both text and speech. She has access to all of your files and notes on your phone and can learn by interpreting your data and storing the information that she learns in her notebook.

Microsoft designed the feature based on real personal assistants, giving Cortana a Notebook to work from. The Notebook can be described as a settings page, allowing users to designate what Cortana can track. In her Notebook, Cortana stores information like personal interests, relationships with people, frequently visited places, appointment dates, quiet hours, and more.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the following about Cortana’s “Notebook”

It’s her view of you, but clearly you can just snatch it from her at any time and say ‘That’s not right, I don’t want you to know this’ or ‘I’m not comfortable with you reading my email, So you have complete control over what she knows and she’s transparent about it.

Entries in the Notebook are stored in the cloud, and you can share contact information with it, as well as your interests, home and work locations, and more. The notion of Cortana acting as a personal assistant with a notebook— as opposed to a creepy stalker — has been drilled into the team from the beginning, they say.

Cortana is a core function of Windows Phone 8.1, replacing the existing search function. Like Siri she can schedule reminders, but Cortana’s functionality is somewhat more powerful, allowing reminders to be tied to people and locations. For example, Cortana can be asked to give a reminder to discuss a certain topic when calling a contact, with that reminder popping up when a call is placed.

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The digital assistant also offers a daily summary of information, similar to what can be found in Apple’s own Notification Center. Cortana lists upcoming appointments, reminders, weather information, and more. She can, with permission, track user email to pull out information like airline reservations.

Like Siri, Cortana has a personality. She has witty responses for certain questions, such as “Who is your father?” to which she replies, “Technically speaking, that’d be Bill Gates. No big deal.” Displayed as a circle on a phone screen, she’s also able to express 16 different emotions.

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While Siri has not been opened up to developers or third parties, Microsoft is releasing an SDK. Cortana will also integrate with services like Hulu, Twitter & Facebook allowing people to use voice commands to launch television shows or send a tweet.

Cortana remains in the early beta stages, as there are plenty of bugs with the software that still need to be worked out. Windows Phone 8.1 will launch soon, scheduled for late April or early May, but unfortunately Cortana will only be available in the United States for the time being.

Let us know what you think in the comments

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