Microsoft has been tweaking Cortana on Android and iOS recently, and the latest addition is a new lock screen option for Android today. While the feature has been in beta since January, it’s rolling out to everyone today. Microsoft isn’t replacing existing lock screens with Cortana, but you’ll be able to access the digital assistant simply by swiping left or right on a floating logo, making it just as quick to access as Google’s own options. Alongside the lock screen integration, the Cortana home section of Android is getting refreshed today with information like calendar events, weather, and travel time to work displayed as soon as the app is launched. Microsoft is also launching Cortana for iOS and Android in Australia today, making it the third country the mobile app is available alongside the US and UK. Cortana is a voice-controlled virtual assistant for Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1. Comparable to Siri, the intelligent assistant enabled on Apple devices, Microsoft’s Cortana will use the Bing search engine and data stored on the user’s smartphone by to make personalized recommendations. According to Microsoft, users will be able to launch Cortana from the start screen, where the female virtual assistant will offer suggestion for tasks the owner might want to carry out based on location and past behavior. Users can instruct Cortana to find information, schedule appointments, set notifications or remainders and use features of applications installed on the device.
Cortana is personalized, largely based on the amount of information the user shares. For example, by allowing access to calendar, email, contacts and browsing history the virtual assistant can use this data to try and anticipate the user’s needs. Cortana’s answers and suggestions get better as she grows more familiar with the user, courtesy of Microsoft’s search platform. Powered by Bing, It gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something.
Who is it exactly?
The virtual assistant is named after the artificially intelligent (AI) system in Microsoft’s Halo video game. In Halo, this fictional AI character provides gamers with the the backstory and tactical information needed to play. Jen Taylor is the voice actress of Halo’s AI and is also the voice of the digital assistant. According to Wikipedia, it’s original design was based on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.