Microsoft have been working on a Siri-like speech recognition app called Cortana, named after the holographic AI character from the Halo series, and now the Microsoft insider “MSFTNerd” has revealed that it will actually be voiced by Jen Taylor, the actress who voices Cortana in the Halo games! They also revealed that it will be available for the Xbox One in 2015. (No mention of Xbox 360 unfortunately.) Here’s more info from MSFTNerd’s Tumblr:
Cortana will be voiced by Jen Taylor & will launch first in beta on Lumia this April for US developers.
The service will expand to the Bing app for iPhone in the US market this fall. The underlying technology will be extended to American Xbox One & Windows users in 2015 with Threshold. Availability in additional English-speaking territories will be spread out over 2015 & 2016.
The speech recognition improvements have started to ship already in the Bing Translator app for Windows.
The Cortana app should allow you to communicate with the Xbox One via Kinect 2 in a more natural, conversational manner. The Xbox One’s Bing app already does this to some degree but Cortana should be a lot better and presumably will allow you to control the whole system like that, or at least that’s what we’re hoping for! Here’s more info about it from ZDNet:
Cortana takes its codename from Cortana, an artifically intelligent character in Microsoft’s Halo series who can learn and adapt.
Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant technology, likewise will be able to learn and adapt, relying on machine-learning technology and the “Satori” knowledge repository powering Bing.
Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire “shell” — the core services and experience — of the future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating systems, from what I’ve heard from my contacts.
In Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s strategy memo from July about Microsoft’s reorg, there were hints about Cortana. Ballmer mentioned that Microsoft will be working, going forward, on “a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell.”
That “shell” is more than just the Metro/Modern/tiled interface. Ballmer continued:
“Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it.”
The coming shell won’t simply surface information stored on users’ phones, PCs and consoles like a search engine can do today. It also will “broker information among our services to bring them together on our devices in ways that will enable richer and deeper app experiences,” Ballmer said in his memo. (That “brokering” is handled by Bing’s Satori, which intelligently interconnects entities, i.e., information about people, places and things.)