Microsoft’s ‘Cortana’ Siri-clone shows the potential of third party app integration for the personal assistant

At its BUILD conference, Microsoft officially unveiled its personal assistant for Windows Phone named Cortana. The similarities to Siri are rather uncanny (and three years late) but in some areas, Siri could definitely learn from Cortana’s feature set.

Cortana certainly does a good job of cloning Siri’s appearance and functionality. However, it goes further by allowing third-party applications to do tasks and answer questions as well. For instance, you can ask Cortana to add a film to your Hulu watch list with natural language.

Rumors of a Siri SDK have floated around since Siri was first introduced alongside the iPhone 4S. Cortana finally demonstrates that a Siri SDK is feasible in the real world; even Google Now is yet to offer such integration. Hopefully, Apple will follow Microsoft’s lead and introduce third-party integrations for Siri in iOS 8.

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s current marketing campaign for the feature leaves less to be desired. ‘Rather one sided’, indeed.

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  1. Gotta hand it to Msoft. Looks solid.

    • I followed the entire BUILD keynote. Very impressive keynote and a lot of great stuff. After watching it, Apple definitely needs to pull up their socks in terms of moving iOS & OSX forward.

      If the new CEO can get the company to execute on their vision, then MS, again, can be a great competitor to Google & Apple. Good for them.

      • NQZ (@surgesoda) - 9 years ago

        Same thoughts here…finally bringing the start menu back to 8.1 with real live tiles but not taking up the whole screen, like it should have been all along. Also the phone improvements and the ability to code an app that will run on any windows platform is pretty amazing.

      • robertvarga79 - 9 years ago

        Still 2 days of the conference, today and tomorrow, both with video online from stage, on Channel 9 of MSDN

  2. rgbfoundry - 9 years ago

    I think you mean Cortana shows APPLE the potential. Clearly, Microsoft is making it happen now.

  3. rogifan - 9 years ago

    And yet people still say Apple made mistake firing Forstall. iOS stagnated under him (and Jobs to be honest) and Federighi, Ive and Cue were left to pick up the pieces.

  4. This is actually pretty good. If it works as advertised then M$ will actually be taking the lead in this area. I also noted that he said you can customize which settings you want in the pull down menu. I wish Apple would allow this as well. I don’t use the standard calculator because I need one with a tape. I also would rather have “Personal Hotspot” as an option as vs. Airplane mode AND Do not disturb. They both do similar things. So in these areas I think M$ was looking at the shortcomings of IOS / Android and they answered the issues with their platform.

    That being said… I’m still an IOS guy. You don’t jump ship because someone leaps frogs you. All three OS’s (sorry Blackberry… your out of the race) will continue to ‘out-do’ each other every few months (Although I can’t say Android has done anything spectacular with KitKat)

  5. Adam-1D - 9 years ago

    I like the concept. I hope Apple improves Siri more in iOS 8. Though from all the Cortana demos, it occurred to me she was kinda slow in processing requests- Siri processes my voice almost instantly—where coverage is strong—way faster than how Cortana does in the videos. Although her voice is kinda nice and natural (it’s a tiny bit more natural sounding than Siri, IMO)—I like Siri’s better.


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.