Posts tagged Microsoft

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

Apple in talks with health tracker company Basis

basisBasis the company behind the “worlds most advanced health tracker” has put itself up for sale and is currently in talks with all the major technological companies about a takeover. The companies interested include Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft.

The company’s goals seem to be in line with the ethos of Apple and on their website they say

When creating Basis, we dedicated ourselves to making the design as advanced as the technology inside. We knew if it was too complicated, or not beautiful enough to wear—it’d be useless. We pushed the limits of technology, without pushing the limits of what’s useful.

While it is currently unknown how much interest apple has in this hardware and weather there is currently an internal iWatch project is still unknown however one thing is for sure, this would certainly speed up the development process.

the current list of features on the Basis watch includes the ability to monitor health-related metrics such such as heart rate, sleep activity, movement, perspiration levels, and skin temperature using a new optical sensor. This would be the perfect hardware to integrate with the recent rumors of a “Health book” style app which is said to be included with iOS 8.

Over the past few months, Apple has also hired a number of health experts in fields related to heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking. Two executives from pulse-oximetry company Masimo joined Apple, which includes its former Chief Medical Officer. Other health-related hires have also been from C8 MediSensors, a company that develops non-invasive blood monitoring sensors.

Overall details on the whole iWatch project are scarce as there has been no official announcement on the topic, and this latest rumor doesn’t even have a ballpark figure for the takeover however we do have a quote from a reliable source saying that the bid would be “sub hundred million” wether this is actually the case with all the recent competition it yet to be seen.

The price we’ve heard for any possible activity is “sub-hundred million” which could mean a small return for investors like Norwest Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund and Intel Capital, who have poured over $30 million into the company.

It is still unknown when the latest iPhone will be released however it is most likely to be this Summer / Autumn along with a new version of IOS and if all goes to plan, a revolutionary iWatch.

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