A personal assistant is defined as someone who assists in daily business or personal tasks. So in this digital age, it would only make sense to have virtual assistants in addition to the physical ones. Now there is competition for that role, too. The popular Apple digital assistant program Siri may have met its match with the recent debut of Microsoft’s Cortana.

Siri vs Cortana

We’re all familiar with Siri- that female voice we’ve been hearing on iPhones or iPads since 2012. Voiced by voice-over artist Susan Bennet, Siri has become a prominent virtual assistant in recent years. Powered by Bing, it would seem to have all the answers to life’s daily problems. Among other functions, the software can answer questions, play music, give directions and wake you up in the morning. The program is voice activated, so simply ask and you will receive.

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri, a voice activated software that can answer questions verbally or silently (in text) through Bing. After a multi-year research project in voice recognition software, it looks like they have achieved something pretty special. Recently the program has been demonstrated setting alarms and calendar appointments. In particular, the memory bank system built into the program amazes as it memorizes past preferences in order to optimize future requests. For example, if a user frequently requests lists of local restaurants and prefers Mexican food, the system will pick up on that. So the next time a restaurant request is made, it will automatically provide Mexican dining options, and won’t dare to offer a Chinese option.

The biggest advantage over Siri, however, is that Cortana will eventually be available as an app for all phones and providers rather than only being available for one specific name brand, like Siri, which is exclusive to Apple products.

So What Is Active Voice?

Active voice is the ability or function of an electronic app to respond to a voice command. Since Siri, voice activation software has really taken off. It’s a popular trend with digital apps and will most likely continue. Like Siri commands, simply start a sentence with “Hey Cortana” and she will respond.

What Do The Experts Think?

John, a Best Buy technician from the East Coast’s Collegeville, Pennsylvania, tells MILLENNIAL, “Cortana is state of the art software that gives you everything Siri does, but is more efficient and intelligent.” He goes on to say that it is today’s “top of the line” software that could revolutionize voice recognition technology.

Millennial Magazine - the verge cortana demo

Other voice recognition programs, such as Siri and Google Now, do have a reason to be worried.  Cortana was released as an app for Microsoft smartphones in April, and the new “active listening” component through the Lumia Denim series will be available in October, 2014. While Cortana is still a new and unproven program, it has the power to disrupt the voice activation industry and become your new best friend.

Watch what Cortana can do!

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Andrew Garrison


Phoenixville, PA

Andrew is a 24 year-old graduate of McDaniel College (’13). He is also an aspiring writer and stand-up comedian. He believes that if you are passionate about something, you should go for it! Life is too short for question marks, live life to the fullest while exploring your dreams and see what happens! Andrew presently lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

All posts by Andrew Garrison

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