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3/13/2015
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Microsoft Cortana Coming To iOS, Android, Report Claims

An artificial intelligence project entitled "Einstein" will enhance Microsoft's Cortana to compete with Apple's Siri on iOS and Google's Android.



Microsoft's Satya Nadella: What's Changed A Year Later?
Microsoft's Satya Nadella: What's Changed A Year Later?
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft is continuing to push its apps beyond the Windows platform to reach iOS and Android users. Its latest project will bring advanced artificial intelligence to Google and Apple operating systems, reports Reuters.

Research from the project, entitled "Einstein," will enhance the current capabilities of Microsoft's Cortana. The "personal assistant" has been running on Windows Phone for a year. A new version is predicted to arrive on phones and desktops running Windows 10 when the OS launches later this fall.

Sources close to the project claim that Cortana will eventually be available as a standalone app for download on mobile devices running iOS and Android. It's expected to launch later this fall.

"This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame," said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research and collaborator on the Einstein project, in an interview with Reuters.

[4 Data-Driven Predictions for IT Innovation]

The availability of Microsoft products on iOS and Android devices is nothing new. Microsoft has already launched Office for Android tablets, brought Outlook to mobile devices running iOS and Android, and released a preview of Office for Mac 2016.

Its break from traditional strategy aligns with the vision of CEO Satya Nadella, who has abandoned the battle of forcing people to use Windows and instead is focusing on providing Microsoft software on a range of devices and platforms. Achieving success on competing platforms could accelerate the advancement of Microsoft, a company that was slowly developing a reputation for being old-fashioned in the tech space.

Microsoft's latest foray into artificial intelligence is an extension of Nadella's strategy. The idea is that a strong focus on machine learning, speech recognition and search capabilities will enable the development of a comprehensive personal assistant that can anticipate its user's demands.

The final product version of Cortana could tell its user when to depart for the airport after reading an email containing flight information in the weeks prior. It would automatically check the flight status and traffic conditions for the commute. The project's success will rely on knowing the time and location of its user, and understanding what the user is trying to do.

Such advancement indicates a level of artificial intelligence that Apple and Google have not yet demonstrated. Apple's Siri is designed to provide quick answers to user questions. Google's app, which lacks a catchy nickname, provides limited predictive information based on what it guesses the user wants to know.

Of course, Microsoft's rivals are hot on its heels. Apple is bringing Siri to enhance new platforms like HomeKit and CarPlay, and it will also be making an appearance on Apple Watch when it launches next month. Google's newest mobile app uses the predictive power of searches to determine its user's interests and provide appropriate contextual information.

Apple and Google are stiff competition, but Microsoft could make a big splash if it delivers the improved Cortana within the predicted time frame.

I'll be live tweeting Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's keynote address on Monday, March 16, during the Convergence show. Please follow @kellysheridan22 for updates.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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