Microsoft is starting to beta test an iOS Cortana app. According to a WareNotice blog post, Apple has a 2,000 user limit on TestFlight-based betas. Those who were chosen to be part of the Cortana beta received emails early Thanksgiving week, announcing their participation. It has been rumored, according to PC Magazine, that Microsoft could be sending out invites in waves instead of all at once. The process has allowed the virtual assistant to cross multi-platforms.
Currently, Microsoft Cortana rivals Google’s Now and Apple’s Siri. However, this round of beta tests for the iOS app, and for Android previously, has begun the process for the virtual assistant to be able to operate across multi-platforms. If Microsoft is successful, Cortana will negate the need for any independent virtual assistant.
Microsoft’s beta version uses voice commands to schedule appointments and set alarms. Cortana can also track data and search Bing. Moreover, it can find information on movies, TV listings, track personal interests, interact with other apps, and get driving directions.
Microsoft Cortana comes with Windows 10, as a digital assistant, via PC, phone, or tablet. Microsoft has stated that Cortana’s integration with Windows 10 is the best way for it to shine. Some of the features that can be accessed on Windows 10 will not be supported on the first iOS phones. The focus has been to incorporate Cortana as a companion to one’s Windows 10 experience.
TechCrunch has reported that the Cortana iOS beta testers will be asked to test some specific features of the app. These features include scheduling meetings, using Microsoft Cortana to assist with meetings, being consistent and starting on time, and communicating with Cortana to test its sound and clarity. Microsoft has also asked testers to set a reminder using Cortana on a Windows 10 PC to test how the virtual assistant works with the iPhone, as well as how Cortana responds to queries.
Earlier in 2015, there was a closed beta test of Cortana, and since then, Microsoft has improved on the virtual assistant experience. One new feature is the ability to make Cortana the “Home” button on smartphones.
Microsoft’s current goal for this first round of testing is more about marketing than the technical aspects of Cortana. The tech giant wants beta testers to become familiar with the app if they are not “Cortana-savvy,” according to PC Magazine.
The Microsoft Cortana app for iOS will allow the user to do quick searches on the Internet and create reminders. Also, the virtual assistant will track scheduled appointments, write messages and emails, as well as perform many other tasks via the use of voice commands.
Cortana and Siri learn and use natural language in a similar fashion. The TestFlight beta version will determine if it is able to respond in a way that is comparable to that of a human assistant. This app was created to be a virtual assistant that will be able to perform across multiple platforms.
Microsoft released Cortana for Android via public beta in August. Engadget believes the virtual assistant will be available for Apple and Google mobile platforms soon.
Microsoft is not stopping with Cortana and the Windows 10 X-Box crossover. The tech giant is also working toward making Office available to iOS and Android devices. Additionally, the company has announced the July 2016 launch of a Microsoft Cortana Analytics Suite, which can be used alongside Salesforce.com and Alpine Metrics. The Suite improves the management of the sales process using voice-based interaction and visual presentations.
The virtual assistant also allows for real-time recommendations, fraud detection, customer turnover, predictive maintenance, and much more. Moreover, Microsoft Cortana also has the capability to connect to Salesforce data and will combine the data with any services that will answer questions using visualizations that incorporate various factors, such as probability, geography, history, and any other necessary variables.
Microsoft intends to further extend the reach of Cortana by entering the automotive industry, as part of Microsoft’s “Windows in the Car” plan. This could be in response to Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Apple is widening Siri’s user experience while Microsoft continues to develop Cortana.
According to Information Week, in September, Microsoft purchased the U.K. start-up company, VocallQ. This new program “builds speech-processing technology.” The software will create a more natural communication with Microsoft Cortana.
According to VocallQ, the virtual assistant that will be the most successful must be self-learning. Therefore, Microsoft Cortana will have to cross multiple platforms and be able to converse about most anything.
By Jeanette Smith
Edited by Leigh Haugh
PC: Microsoft Launches Cortana Beta for iOS
Information Week: Microsoft’s Cortana Coming to iOS in Beta
TechCrunch: Cortana for iOS Begins Rolling Out to Testers
Featured Image Courtesy of Bhupinder Nayyar’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License