Microsoft’s big update to their Windows Phone platform (WP 8.1) went live just last week, and the biggest new feature that arrived on the platform is called Cortana. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to both Apple’s Siri, and the popular Google Now service on Android devices. On July 28 the Redmond, Washington-based company released a new video that puts Cortana in a head-to-head battle with Siri on the iPhone.
In typical Microsoft vs Apple style, the new video highlights the two competing services on each platform. Microsoft and Apple battling it out in commercials is nothing new, and many will remember the classic ads that ran in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that featured a man, or hipster who portrayed a Mac, and a boring business professional who portrayed the PC. Ever since these commercials first aired, Microsoft has been trying to get one over on Apple, and in recent years they have been succeeding, with the latest commercial laying the smack down on Siri.
Cortana is Microsoft’s very own voice-powered personal assistant who tries (and succeeds in most cases) to help users of Windows Phone 8.1 devices get the most from their phone. The personal assistant arrived on the platform with the reputation of being Master Chief’s digital assistant in the smash hit series Halo on the Xbox. Cortana is an incredibly powerful, contextually aware assistant who can help you place calls, send texts, check the weather and news, and set reminders when you arrive at certain stores or locations, the last of which is demonstrated in the commercial.
The advert puts the high-end iPhone 5s up against a very modest Nokia Lumia 635, but the commercial is not about the actual phones, and is more about what the digital assistants can do for you. In the commercial Cortana is asked to remind the user of several things he has to do when he reaches different locations, and of course Cortana takes it in her stride while Siri proclaims that she ‘just can’t do that’. At the end of the commercial Siri states ‘now that’s a smartphone’ when talking about the Windows Phone 8.1 based Nokia Lumia.
Microsoft has been betting big on the new voice recognition software that can be found in WP 8.1, and they are hoping that Cortana, along with a myriad of other updates will finally thrust the platform into the smartphone world spotlight.