AH Tech Talk: How The Halo Inspired Windows Phone Assistant Compares To Google Now

If you played any one of the Halo games from the series of FPS titles on Xbox, you're probably more than familiar with the AI from the game called Cortana. Microsoft has taken Cortana out of Master Chiefs helmet, and placed her inside Windows Phone as the competitor to the likes of Google Now and Siri. Hearing about this for the first time, i'll be honest, made me a little envious of Windows Phone users, if not for how the feature functioned, for the sheer fact that having Cortana on your phone just seems cool. It resonates with me because I was and still am a huge fan of the Halo games, so this plays on my love for video games, yet has nothing to really do with them short of the name. The Cortana personal assistant(which sadly won't be taking on the appearance of the Cortana from the Halo series of games) is set to arrive in Windows phones with the upcoming 8.1 update, and The Verge was able to get a hold of some details about how Cortana will work once users get their hands on the software.

We'll start with what I think is probably one of the Coolest features of Cortana, which is the ability to allow users to be referred to as whatever name they choose. As awesome as Google Now is and I use it daily, there's something to be said for a personal assistant that can call you by your real name, or whatever name you desire. I won't state the obvious choice here for legions of hardcore loyal Halo fans, cause I don't think I need to. Say for example though that you want Cortana to call you by Overlord [insert last or middle name here] any time you turn it on, you can make it so. Now, tell me that isn't one of the most bad ass of novelties.

Now as for how Cortana begins to become more personalized for each individual user, it keeps track of data and information about the user in notebook like system, which can allow for Cortana to access and feed back to the user information ranging from location to Flight info, and even things like reminders and contacts. It doesn't stop there as Cortana can also notify you in ways similar to how Google Now might do for things such as incoming packages. It isn't specified that Cortana will feed you information specifically about all manner of package tracking data, but since it pulls tags and mentions from emails, and tracking information about packages for orders comes through email, we can only assume this will be part of it. So far, it sounds like Cortana will be able to provide a very similar experience to that of it's competitors, the question still remains though how well it will work over time once it's had enough of it to deliver the kind of information you will deem useful on a day to day basis. Although I'm not a Windows Phone user, Cortana is still beginning to sound pretty cool and I wouldn't mind giving the software a try just to be able to compare properly from a personal standpoint.

So what potentially makes Cortana so smart? It seems that it pulls information and data from multiple sources just like Google Now does. So instead of Google Search, it'll use Bing of course as a major resource for gathering information, as well as services like Foursquare for location. On paper, it sounds like Cortana will be able to deliver the kind of powerful experience that Google Now gives to Android users, and it'll be making an early splash for developers coming soon with the developer preview that Microsoft is set to dish out during it's upcoming Build conference. So what do you think about Microsoft's answer to Google now and Siri? Does it sound as promising to you as it does to us? Hopefully Microsoft decides to keep the Cortana name for the final consumer ready build of the feature. 

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About the Author
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Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.
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