Microsoft has confirmed that Cortana is coming to more devices in 2018, allaying concerns over the future of Redmond’s voice-activated digital assistant in the consumer space.
Microsoft had released the Cortana Devices SDK (software development kit) just before Christmas in an effort to help developers more easily incorporate Cortana into their products.
And now Redmond has announced a number of OEMs who are incorporating Cortana into their devices, which range from thermostats and IoT solutions, through to smart speakers.
When Microsoft revealed the Cortana Devices SDK in mid December 2017, it also showed off the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker powered by Cortana, challenging the likes of Amazon’s Echo speaker, as well as Google’s Home speaker.
It should be remembered that Cortana has already been expanded to Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system, Windows 10, and mixed reality headsets. Redmond has even made Cortana available on rival mobile platforms.
But the software giant is keen on getting other hardware makers to utilise its technology, and to this end it has revealed that Cortana will be in fact be available for more devices in 2018.
“Just last week, Johnson Controls announced the new Cortana-enabled JCI Glas thermostat, built using the Cortana Devices SDK,” said Microsoft. “We’ve also partnered with industry leaders including Allwinner, Synaptics, TONLY and Qualcomm, to develop reference designs for new Cortana experiences.”
For example the Allwinner Tech R16 Quad Core IoT solution is now available with Cortana, enabling partners to build voice first IoT devices.
Synaptics meanwhile now provides Cortana and Skype certified solutions, while TONLY has collaborated closely with Microsoft to design, develop and manufacture Cortana devices that optimise Skype audio requirements.
And lastly Qualcomm and Microsoft are allowing partners to build Mesh Networking and Smart Audio products that will incorporate Cortana.
There has been some concern about the future of Cortana for a while now in the consumer space, even since Microsoft’s humiliating retreat from the smartphone market, where its digital assistant featured heavily within the now defunct Windows Phone operating system. Since that time Microsoft has been searching for new routes to market for Cortana, despite the fact that its voice assistant was very late to market.
Cortana originally arrived on Windows Phone, but following Microsoft’s retreat from the smartphone market, the assistant has become an integral part of Windows 10. However it was very late to the market (Apple’s Siri was released in 2011) and there are some concerns about its potential for the consumer space.
Microsoft confirmed in October that it was shutting its Groove Music service and told its users to switch to Spotify. This decision resulted in the loss of a significant feature of Cortana, as Cortana had relied on Groove Music’s library to help people identify songs.
Due to Groove’s shutdown, Cortana developer Jason Deakins confirmed on Twitter that Cortana would no longer have the ability to listen to and identify songs played into the microphone of a compatible device.
However, Amazon and Microsoft surprised many when they said they would allow Alexa and Cortana to ‘speak’ to each other.
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