Microsoft’s Cortana voice-based personal assistant has always seemed a little out of place in the enterprise. It’s a useful tool for search, for reminders, and for letting you know when you need to leave to get to that meeting on time. But compared to Amazon Alexa’s growing list of skills, it’s lagging in the personal assistant race.Yes, it connects to Office 365 and LinkedIn to give you some insight into your work, but then again so does Alexa. But if Microsoft delivers the Windows promises made last week at its Build 2017 developer conference, that’s all going to change.As part of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s rearticulation of his original “mobile first, cloud first” vision as one of “an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge,” Cortana is getting a promotion. More than a basic piece of personal assistant software, with the next release of Windows 10 it will be the face of the intelligent agents that will populate … [Read more...] about Cortana moves way beyond being a personal assistant
Cortana moves way beyond being a personal assistant
Much as smartphones did in the late 2000s,voice-activated A.I. assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant appear poised to move from homes into the workplace. That’s the the idea behind this month’s launch of Alexa for Business by Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services.The virtual assistant, unveiled at the company’s Re:Invent conference, is aimed at automating and simplifying a variety of tedious office tasks. It allows users to check calendars, reorder supplies, set up meetings and kick off video conference calls using voice commands directed at its Echo devices.Amazon is not the first to target its intelligent assistant for workplace uses. Cisco, for example, announced its Spark Assistant last month; it’s designed specifically to take some of the pain out of organizing video conferences. Microsoft, meanwhile, has integrated Cortana with its Office 365 applications.All of those moves serve to highlight the emergence of … [Read more...] about Alexa for Business paves way for smart A.I. assistants at work
The growing rivalry between Amazon and Google in the battle for virtual assistant dominance intensified at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.While both have a strong claim as front runners – with Amazon arguably leading the charge at this stage – it’s clear that Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are lagging. Case in point: Several major PC makers launched Windows 10 hardware and trumpeted Alexa support as a major selling point. (Cortana will, of course, also be available since it’s built into Windows 10, but it is the arrival of Alexa that was a key selling pitch.)The Windows 10 devices launched this week with Alexa built include HP’s small form-factor Pavilion Wave PC; Acer’s Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks; Asus’ 2018 ZenBook and VivoBook laptops; and Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon and Yoga devices.With these laptop and PC launches, Alexa is finding its way into a wider array of devices as virtual assistants gain a … [Read more...] about Amazon Alexa arrives on Windows 10 PCs as virtual assistants go to work
Google is taking on Alexa, Siri, and Cortana with its own voice assistant: Google Assistant.Google first unveiled Assistant at Google I/O in May 2016, launched it on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones, brought it to Google Home and then Android Wear 2.0, before it started it rolling it out to other phones running Android.More than year on from Google Assistant's launch, Google has spread Assistant far and wide, not only on Google's own hardware, but through partnerships with other companies. That sees Google Assistant in a wide range of devices, from fridges to headphones, speakers to cars.Here's how Google Assistant works and what you need to know about Google's AIWhat is Google Assistant?Google Assistant is Google's voice-controlled smart assistant. It's was originally an upgrade or extension of Google Now - designed to be personal - while expanding on Google's existing "OK Google" voice controls.Originally, Google Now smartly pulled out relevant information for you: it knew where … [Read more...] about What is Google Assistant, how does it work, and which devices offer it?
Amazon’s Alexa is leading the AI assistant pack. Echo devices are dominating smart speaker sales, and that was before Amazon brought the devices to more than 80 nations around the world. To defend its crown, Amazon moved fast this year to outpace competitors like Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Apple’s delayed HomePod is due out next year, while Samsung and Facebook are also reportedly planning to debut smart speakers. It can be challenging to keep up with all the features Alexa has added to stay ahead of some of the largest tech companies on the planet, so here’s a rundown of everything Alexa learned to do this year. If you’re the new owner of a smart speaker like a Sonos One or Echo Dot, see this story about 10 things to try with your Alexa-powered device. A more expressive voice Earlier this year, Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) tags were introduced to give Alexa a more expressive voice. More natural voice features were made … [Read more...] about Everything Amazon’s Alexa learned to do in 2017
Ah, virtual assistants! Nobody really knows where these are headed, but by now it should be obvious that the big three mobile platforms are intent on pushing the frontier forward in what is shaping up to be yet another battlefield. Quite frankly, however, while the industry as a whole has been checking up with Google Now and Apple's Siri every now and then to see how each is doing and how they compare against each other, it's only now that Microsoft has finally entered the space that this is starting to feel like a real race. But before we talk about specifics and discuss where each of the three is likely headed, it's important to first understand where each is coming from.Most of you would assume that Siri is the one we should start with -- after all, when Apple introduced the personal assistant with the iPhone 4S in 2011, it was the first to do so, and it kept that title for a while. But the truth is that Siri and Google Now (introduced in 2012), while technically older products, … [Read more...] about Google Now vs Siri vs Cortana: showdown
Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa has had quite a year. Besides powering the leading smart speaker in the world in the Amazon Echo, smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, HTC and now Motorola have made room on certain of their handsets to include Alexa right alongside Google. And as other companies seek to make their own personal assistants more competitive, Amazon is willing to shell out the cash required to keep Alexa on top in 2018 and beyond.In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is moving money and people off of other divisions and is moving the cash and hundreds of engineers to the Alexa program. As an example of how big Amazon thinks Alexa can be, it has replaced the former head of the division, who retired, with long time Amazon executive Tom Taylor. The latter is known for scaling fast growing divisions, which tells us that Amazon expects to expand Alexa very quickly/This holiday season could be a big one for Amazon, Alexa and Echo. Smart speakers have become a … [Read more...] about Amazon keeps hiring engineers in a bid to keep Alexa on top
Our personal digital assistants are getting smarter; Amazon and Microsoft recently announced that Alexa and Cortana will be able to talk to one another. But we’re still in the very early days of artificial intelligence (AI), and their potential remains largely untapped. That’s changing, and it’s changing fast. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Fast Company “this is not all future. Volvo is using it today. Uber is using it today. [US home improvement store chain] Lowe’s is using it today”. The sector is moving so fast, Nadella added, that “sometimes I get confused myself”.If you thought getting Siri or Alexa to turn on the lights was pretty cool, you’ll be amazed by what the future could hold. According to Nadella, the digital assistants of the future could:Chide you about missing gym sessions or eating junk when you’re travelingMake cars safer by analysing motorists’ faces to check they’re awake and in … [Read more...] about What happens when our assistants are smarter than us?
Knowing how to uncover a hidden file may sound like a contradiction of sorts, but it’s also the kind of basic computing knowledge everyone should have in their tool belt. Similar to encrypting and password protecting a folder, hiding important documents and data from prying eyes is a simple and viable way to ensure your private data stays that way: Private.Still, hiding your stuff is one thing, but it can be beyond inconvenient when troubleshooting Windows errors or merely trying to delete the said folder to free up space on your hard drive. And though you can quickly hide a file or folder from within each item’s respective property settings, viewing them requires administrative privileges and access to Window’s main control panel.Here’s our guide on how to show hidden files in Windows, whether you’re running the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system or an earlier incarnation. Also, check out our guide on how to password … [Read more...] about Want to show hidden files in Windows? Here’s a quick guide for Windows 7/8.1/10
Microsoft is preparing to debut an update to its Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, which includes expansion of its Cortana personal assistant availability to more regions.The update introduces Cortana to China and the UK in beta form, and Canada, India and Australia in alpha mode.Cortana is only just starting to make waves in the market, several years after Apple debuted Siri, while Android's Google Now has been available for some time.Cortana, named after the artificially intelligent character Cortana in Microsoft's Halo video game series, first became available earlier this month with the release of the Nokia Lumia 635. Microsoft is positioning Cortana as a highly customizable personal assistant. The Notebook feature, for instance, stores personal information like a user's interests, reminders, location data, and contacts to learn usage patterns and behaviors. Cortana is designed to offer assistance that is more closely tailored to a user's individual needs and preferences."What I … [Read more...] about Microsoft Sends Cortana to Far-Flung Corners of the Earth