September 6, 2016
Share

The Battle of Virtual Assistants: Siri Meets Cortana

Innovations never stop as technology lords over every aspect of human life, bringing about many conveniences and alternative ways of doing things.  

One of the most common kinds of technology used these days is AI or artificial intelligence. The term “AI” might be too overwhelming, but don’t fret! It’s easier to understand than many might think. AI nowadays can come in the form of virtual assistant (VA), and two of the most well-know virtual assistants are Siri and Cortana.

One of the most common kinds of technology used these days is AI or artificial intelligence. The term “AI” might be too overwhelming, but don’t fret! It’s easier to understand than many might think. AI nowadays can come in the form of virtual assistant (VA), and two of the most well-know virtual assistants are Siri and Cortana.

Siri

siri

Siri is a computer program that works as an intelligent assistant. She is part of Apple’s iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, but before Apple’s acquisition, Siri was an iOS application available in the App Store by Siri Inc., which were supposed to be available for BlackBerry and for phones running Android. Once Apple acquired Siri, it became exclusive for Apple products. Since then, Siri has been an integral part of all Apple products, especially the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

How to use Siri
Siri’s ready to use, so users are simply to press the main home button and wait for Siri to pop up. Once there, the user can talk to Siri about anything, and she’s been known to be a good listener. There’s also an edit button, which users can use to type messages to Siri if they don’t want to talk. Its hands-free facility, which could be done by saying “Hey, Siri” is only available when the device is connected to a power source.

Siri’s Functions
Siri’s top functions include searching the web, sending texts and tweets, making calls, opening apps, updating Facebook statuses, suggesting apps and contacts, setting up/altering calendar events and other calendar details, setting alarms, changing phone settings, looking up movie details, directions in Apple maps, public transport directions, nearby attractions/restaurants and so on, playing and identifying music, reading out text messages and unread emails, and showing photos according to date and location. She sure does a lot, doesn’t she?

Siri’s Limitations
While Siri appears very promising, she also has limitations. For example, she can’t send Facebook messages, interact with third-party apps, guess most of what the users want, and pull out information from the user’s email. Unlike its Windows counterpart, Siri does not collect information about its users. Well, perfection is still not a thing even with VAs.

Cortana

cortana

On the other end of the spectrum is Siri’s counterpart in Windows—Cortana. Cortana was introduced to the market two years ago, and it was launched as a key player for Microsoft’s “makeover” for Windows Phone and Windows OS. It is named after Cortana, a synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game. It is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese language editions, depending on the software platform and region in which it is used.

On the other end of the spectrum is Siri’s counterpart in Windows—Cortana. Cortana was introduced to the market two years ago, and it was launched as a key player for Microsoft’s “makeover” for Windows Phone and Windows OS. It is named after Cortana, a synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game. It is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese language editions, depending on the software platform and region in which it is used.

How to use Cortana
Once enabled, Cortana could be used by saying, “Hey, Cortana,” followed by the command. This hands-free facility makes using Cortana more convenient than Siri.

Cortana’s Functions
Just like Siri, Cortana can do a lot. Apart from it taking over the search part of Windows 10, it can make calls, send text messages, search the web using Bing, show local events, restaurants, and the likes, add/change calendar events, make notes, offer weather reports, tell how long it’ll take to get to home/work, offer travel advice, identify music, check flight status, and set reminders when to talk to a person. Others also say that Cortana cracks jokes, too! Another edge Cortana has is that it can store personal information, such as the user’s interests, contacts, location data, and reminders among others in the “Notebook.” From these, it can learn a user’s specific patterns and behaviors.

Cortana’s Limitations
Being in the market for just two years, Cortana shows a lot of room for improvement. While it feels like it’s the best when it works fine, it is said to fail more frequently than Siri. It even failed during Microsoft’s CEO’s presentation last year! Some noted that Cortana’s search results are incompetent when compared to Siri’s, which usually tries and contextualises for more precise answers. Moreover, since Cortana gathers personal information about the users, issues about privacy are also surfacing. (What if someone stole the phone? It has all of my details in it!) Overall, many feels that Cortana needs a little bit of polishing and consistency.

So in the end, when Siri meets Cortana, which do you think would reign supreme?