Apple’s Siri vs. Microsoft’s Cortana on an iPhone

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple’s Siri vs. Microsoft’s Cortana on an iPhone.

Move over Siri, here comes something different. Despite forecasting a rollout of the Windows 10 smartphone update in December several months ago, Microsoft now says the upgrade will take place next year on select devices.

For the first time since its launch in April 2014, Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant, is now available on smartphones other than Windows devices. Although no particular devices suitable to the upgrade have been confirmed by Microsoft, The Verge reports that handsets will need to be equipped with a minimum of 8GB.

They have to stand by an operating system with a new name every few years, significantly fewer apps than the competition, and a distant third place spot in the market. With Placeholders, you would be able to access any file on your OneDrive by double-clicking an icon as you normally would, but the file itself wouldn’t actually be downloaded to your PC until you opened the file. A surprise move that speaks volumes about Microsoft’s newfound flexibility and willingness to abandon convention, the Cortana app works quite well on Apple’s iPhone.

According to’s Brad Sams, Microsoft is looking to reintroduce the Placeholders feature in the upcoming Windows 10 Redstone release, which is due to arrive sometime next spring. The new target? 2016. “The Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will begin rolling out early next year to select existing Windows 8 and 8.1 phones,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. According to Sams, Microsoft removed Placeholders in the first place because “not everyone understood how the feature worked.” That is, if you didn’t realize that your files weren’t stored on your hard drive and you tried to work on them while you’re offline, well, you’d probably want to curse out Microsoft. The power and volume buttons are well spaced and wide enough for easy reach and Microsoft managed to style up the large rear camera as part of the 950 XL’s aesthetics.

It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909) 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, five-megapixel rear camera with auto-focus f/2.4 with LED Flash and a two megapixel front camera. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft addresses these user-confusion issues—Sams suggests that Microsoft should have Placeholders turned off by default.

Why this matters: While the loss of Placeholders may not seem like a big deal on multi-terabyte drives, Placeholders were a great feature for those of us on notebooks or tablets with smaller drives. Yet because Siri is stitched into the iPhone’s operating system, it’s the only voice assistant that can perform commands at the touch of the home button. That’s because the Microsoft-run assistant maintains a list of the users’ preferences — what it calls its “notebook” — to ensure it’s providing relevant information to the user. If you’re a Windows Phone fan looking to get the latest and greatest from Microsoft, your best bet is to become a Windows Insider and help the company test new builds (the latest cumulative update came out on December 17). It ships out with a 3GB of RAM, and the combination with the processors gives the Lumia 950 XL all the firepower it needs to make one smooth mobile experience.

Or, if you tell it you like Indian food, when you ask Cortana to find a place for lunch, it’s more likely to serve up a place with naan or curry on the menu. Cortana’s notebook currently has about 15 categories of information that users can customize to make Microsoft’s assistant smarter, including everything from the user’s academic background to their favorite sports teams. In this way, Cortana is more like a real personal assistant than Siri, because it almost has a relationship with the user, learning preferences over time. But that’s not to say the iPhone doesn’t learn — iOS 9’s proactive intelligence suggests apps based upon times of day, calculates travel time to appointments based on traffic, and can even guess who is calling you by mining your email for unknown phone numbers. Still, Apple’s assistant has the ultimate advantage: Users can call for help simply by saying “Hey Siri.” “Hey Cortana” doesn’t work on an iPhone, just like how Google Now’s “Okay Google” doesn’t do squat on Apple’s devices.

Since Cortana is a cross-platform service, it shares users’ data and preferences over a wide range of machines, from Surface computers to Android tablets and Apple iPhones. And since Microsoft’s phones haven’t exactly flown off the shelves, Windows users have seemed like they were halfway connected in a fully interconnected world. The worst part is that Microsoft is no longer committing to a month. “Early next year” roughly translates to Q1 2016, which could be January, February, or March.

But for them to take a higher stance, would depend on its operating system, which runs on Windows 10 – the same one that can be used on desktops and laptops. Mind you, even the 950 XL is not geared to run software that demands a lot of power – such as desktop versions of photo and video editing software, though the mobile versions are ample enough in some cases.

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