“I Remember When I Was the Only Phone that Talked”

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Watch out Siri, there’s a new kid in town! When Siri was released by Apple to be a part of the iPhone 4S, the public went ballistic. Who ever heard of a phone that could talk to you back then? People set up all sorts of bizarre nicknames for themselves, and were elated to hear their “nickname” repeated back to them. People bombarded Siri with obscure questions, including MY favorite “Siri, will you marry me?,” and were astonished to see Siri come back with human-like answers. For two years, there has been almost no comparison to Siri. This all changed with the release of Cortana, Siri’s newest competition.

Windows was proud to unveil Cortana this past summer. Cortana will be available on the new Windows Phone 8.1. She is expected to be available globally by either late 2014 or early 2015. Cortana has a sleek interface, represented by a mere circle, which is very attractive to the user. For all of you video game fans out there, here is a cool fact about Cortana. Cortana is also the name of a video game character in the Halo series. Cortana’s main role is to provide assistance to the player. Even more impressive than this is the fact that the person who voiced Cortana in the video games (Jen Taylor) also voiced Cortana on the Windows Phone.

Going past this aside, Cortana has many cool features. Obviously, since this is a Windows phone, Cortana uses Bing rather than Google to search for any items on the Internet. Cortana is also able to set reminders and recognize a user’s natural voice easily. Although Siri is acclaimed to have this feature, a major complaint about Siri was that she failed to correctly recognize a user’s voice and, as a result, searched for the wrong item. Cortana has much better voice recognition than Siri does. Unlike Siri, you can type commands into Cortana instead of saying something. This is useful because for many people, it is easier to type something into a keyboard rather than to say it sometimes. One more significant feature of Cortana is that she has a third-party support. The third-party support enables the user to ask Cortana almost anything that they could want to make their life easier.

Cortana is updated independently of the software, and Windows has stated that they will try to update Cortana every month. This is probably one of the most significant features about Cortana. The ability to update every month allows Windows to fix glitches with Cortana much quicker than Apple could with Siri. If there is a problem with Cortana, you don’t have to wait for the next OS software update like you do for Apple. Just wait a few weeks and she’ll be functioning smoother.

So here’s the real question: is Cortana better than her rivals, Google Now and Siri? According to Microsoft, the answer to this question is “yes.” Cortana was designed to take the best features of both Siri and Google Now. Does she actually perform to her expectations? The answer to this is unclear right now, but one thing is for sure: Cortana definitely has smart-phone lovers on their heels.