Cortana

Eight things AI assistants need to improve on

Eight things AI assistants need to improve on

HTC's announcement of its U Ultra and U Play phones, and consequently the revelation of its Sense Companion, may have you cringing at yet another AI-powered, disembodied, virtual assistant. But HTC's spiel has a nugget of sense. AI agents today are so bright they can tell jokes or even hold conversation, whether with humans or with each other. But when it comes to actually assisting us humans to get things done, they're not that smart yet and need more than a little nudging to work. If these assistants are to be the way we interact with our devices, our homes, and our digital selves, they need to be able to do a bit more, and soon. Here are some things these virtual secretaries and butlers need to be able to do in order to really make a significant impact in our modern lived. Not all of them even require substantial advancements in artificial intelligence.

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Microsoft unveils Azure-based cloud platform for connected vehicles

Microsoft unveils Azure-based cloud platform for connected vehicles

At CES 2017 on Friday, Microsoft announced its latest plan to get involved in cars and their technology. No, the company isn't making its own autonomous vehicle like everyone else seems to be doing these days. Instead it's Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, a cloud system built on the Azure platform that will power connected cars and their growing number of services. Along with things like navigation and "in-car productivity," it will be used to bring Cortana to the road.

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Hey Cortana, tell me about Nissan’s CES 2017 keynote

Hey Cortana, tell me about Nissan’s CES 2017 keynote

Cars are getting smarter, either with the help of tether or paired smartphone or by themselves. Some car makers have flocked to Apple's CarPlay while others have jumped on Google's Android Auto. The one major platform maker that seems to be missing out, however, is Microsoft. If Nissan's teaser is any indication, however, that might be changing on Thursday. To remind people about its CES 2017 keynote, Nissan has sought the marketing help of Cortana, and Microsoft, of course, hinting that there might be a big reveal coming up.

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Cortana in Creators Update: clipboard, notification sync

Cortana in Creators Update: clipboard, notification sync

Siri might be the oldest player in the personal assistant game and Alexa might be the new darling, but Microsoft's Cortana has one thing the others, even the new Google Assistant, don't. It's available on multiple platforms and devices, including Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Android, and iOS. In the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10 next year, Microsoft will take advantage Cortana's cross-platform abilities to bring at least three new features to the platform, including a universal and improved notifications across devices.

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Cortana for Windows IoT means trouble for Alexa, Assistant

Cortana for Windows IoT means trouble for Alexa, Assistant

Amazon’s Alexa is one of those unexpected, but for some, pleasant, surprises in the tech industry. At first, barely anyone knew what to make of the shopping assistant that came in a nondescript but attention-grabbing black canister. Now, among the other virtual personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, Alexa is the one with the most presence in other, sometimes unexpected, devices. That, however, might soon change, and it won’t be good for the competition. Microsoft has just pushed an Insider update for its Windows 10 IoT Core and it is pushing along Cortana with it.

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Cortana, Harman Kardon to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home

Cortana, Harman Kardon to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home

If you thought Amazon and Google were the only ones battling out in the still niche smart living room speaker arena, Microsoft would beg to differ. Just as it poised Cortana as the cross-platform smart assistant to beat, it is now also positioning her/it to be the cross-device smart assistant to challenge them all. That means Cortana in your desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone, Xbox One, and, yes, smart living room speaker. And to accomplish that, it has enlisted the help of famed audio masters Harman Kardon.

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Cortana for Android, iOS gets a facelift, heads to the UK

Cortana for Android, iOS gets a facelift, heads to the UK

Cortana might be the smart AI assistant immediately associated with Microsoft and Windows, but, unlike Siri or Google Assistant, she/it isn’t shy about embracing rival platforms as well. While it might not be as powerful on Android and iOS as it is on Windows 10, Cortana on mobile offers users a taste of what the Microsoft life is like. And now those in the UK will be getting their chance to take a taste as well, with Cortana for Android and iOS finally heading outside the US, a year after it launched exclusively there.

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Galaxy S8 confirmed to feature Samsung’s own smart assistant

Galaxy S8 confirmed to feature Samsung’s own smart assistant

Confirming what most have already guessed at this point, Samsung shared that its next flagship, which will undoubtedly be called the Galaxy S8, will have an AI-powered digital assistant, but significantly different from Samsung’s obsolete and underpowered S Voice. This new assistant will be the fruit of Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs, which was formed by the a co-creator of Apple’s Siri. But while that’s pretty much a given, the biggest question is how Samsung plans on differentiating itself from the increasingly competitive market.

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LG Smart Instaview Door-in-Door Fridge up close and personal

LG Smart Instaview Door-in-Door Fridge up close and personal

Let the battle of the smart refrigerators commence: LG has a new entry in the smart fridge space, introducing the world to its Instaview Door-in-Door Fridge at IFA 2016. Like the Instaview that came before, this latest iteration has a panel in the door that allows users to look inside without having to open the fridge up, but that panel has a lot more functionality this time around.

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Xbox One system update arrives with Cortana and more

Xbox One system update arrives with Cortana and more

If you've been eager to try out Cortana, Microsoft's digital voice assistant, on your Xbox One, the wait is finally over. The console's summer system update has started rolling out this weekend, and as has been promised for months, players will be able to use voice commands to navigate and use Xbox One features and settings. The update also introduces background music options and additional integration with Windows 10 desktop apps.

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Microsoft will make Cortana mandatory in Anniversary Update

Microsoft will make Cortana mandatory in Anniversary Update

Virtual personal assistants and chatbots are all the rage these days. But while some of them, like Siri, Alexa, or even Cortana, are interesting and at times even useful, they aren't exactly suited for all situations and all devices. And yet, that is the message that Microsoft is trying to get across by forcing Cortana on all Windows 10 users, whether they like to or not. Come August 2nd, when the Anniversary Update rolls out, users will no longer be able to disable Cortana like before, ensuring that she becomes the center of all your desktop, and online, searches.

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Xbox One will get its own Summer update with Cortana in tow

Xbox One will get its own Summer update with Cortana in tow

It isn't just Windows 10 that's getting a rather hefty update this summer. Perhaps in line with its push to market Windows 10 everywhere, including in the Xbox One, Microsoft is also preparing a major update to the console's operating system, bringing both long-awaited and perhaps some dreaded features as well. While the bulk of the changes revolve around gaming's more social aspects, the spotlight will probably be shown on Cortana's long overdue arrival on the Xbox One as well as the merging of the Windows and Xbox stores.

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