Microsoft's Cortana heading to Xbox One, will take on Apple's Siri in the living room

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Apple's Siri voice controls debuted on the new Apple TV last fall, and Microsoft's competing Cortana will follow suit, debuting in the living room on Xbox One consoles starting this summer.




Until now, voice control on the Xbox One gaming system has been rigid, with specific commands required to operate. That's set to change with the debut of Cortana, which will allow a more natural, conversational style with the system.

Apple, of course, has offered its own conversational media controls since last year with the fourth-generation Apple TV and Siri Remote. Like the Xbox One, the latest Apple TV allows users to download apps and games, and to play those titles with full-fledged gaming controllers.

One key difference between the Apple TV and more traditional consoles like the Xbox One is price --?while Apple's set-top box starts at $149, the Xbox One is priced at $299.

In a post to its official Xbox blog, Microsoft announced on Monday that the gaming machine and media player will add Cortana support in a preview update debuting in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain starting this week. The update is scheduled to officially launch for all Xbox One users this summer.




Microsoft says users can expect the "familiar Cortana experience" already established on Windows 10 and Windows Phone devices, invoked with the words "Hey Cortana." Voice controls with Cortana on Xbox One will work with both headsets and Kinect.

"You'll be able to use Cortana to find great new games, see what your friends are up to, start a party, accomplish common tasks, turn on your Xbox One if you're using Kinect, and more," Microsoft said. "We'll continue to build Cortana features over time and our vision is to use Cortana to help elevate your experience as your personal digital assistant for gaming."

In a demonstration, Microsoft showed Cortana doing more than just gaming-related functions --?one example had the assistant delivering the scores from recent Seattle Mariners baseball games.




Ironically, Xbox is the last major platform from Microsoft to support Cortana, despite the fact that the voice-driven service is named after a character from the company's blockbuster Halo gaming franchise, which is exclusive to Xbox.

With the optional Kinect accessory, the Xbox One is always listening, meaning Cortana support is available hands-free. In contrast, the Apple TV requires users to press the Siri button on its remote to begin listening for voice commands.

Apple is rumored to be working on an upgraded Apple TV that could have its own microphone and speaker, allowing for always-listening capabilities without the need to have the Siri Remote in hand. Such additions would allow Apple to compete not only with the likes of Cortana on Xbox One, but also dedicated in-home personal assistants like Amazon Echo, or Google's forthcoming Home hardware.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,070member
    Everyone's really competing with Amazon's Echo, but the whole home automation thing looks to me like Silicon Valley chasing its own tail. Based on my admittedly limited experience, voice control is not the next great UI innovation.
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Having owned (and subsequently sold) no less than 6 Windows Phones in the last 2 years, I can tell you that Cortana IS great... but a "competitor" to Siri? Hah! No chance. Microsoft don't have the prestige, traction, reputation or laser like focus that Apple have. I've used the Cortana app on iOS and Android..... oh VERY dear, don't pin ya hopes on it, Microsoft.

    Everyone's really competing with Amazon's Echo, but the whole home automation thing looks to me like Silicon Valley chasing its own tail. Based on my admittedly limited experience, voice control is not the next great UI innovation.


    The problems with Echo, are:

    #1 It's from Amazon - they're a VERY unethical company, and have been proven to be.
    #2 It's ONE product which one has to BUY, it's not an app that's already there on your iOS device IN YOUR HAND.
    #3 It's from Amazon, in case I didn't mention them being a problem already.
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 3 of 17
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 594member
    Everyone's really competing with Amazon's Echo, but the whole home automation thing looks to me like Silicon Valley chasing its own tail. Based on my admittedly limited experience, voice control is not the next great UI innovation.
    I tend to agree.  I use Siri a bit.  I see what the other things can do (better than Siri generally).  It's still a nuisance.  I don't want to be constantly telling things to do things.  I like to see my tech anticipating questions and providing context based information or assistance.  I like how the phone detects a new phone number in an email and offers to update the contact, offers to make calendar entries based on email content, etc.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 17
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Before anyone claims this is a reaction to the AppleTV, this was announced over a year ago. 
    sirlance99
  • Reply 5 of 17
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 594member
    .... I can tell you that Cortana IS great... but a "competitor" to Siri? Hah! No chance. Microsoft don't have the prestige, traction, reputation or laser like focus that Apple have. I've used the Cortana app on iOS and Android..... oh VERY dear, don't pin ya hopes on it, Microsoft.
    I would love to know what you mean about Cortana. I have used it very little (on Win10). You know much better than I do, so please share a bit. What is Apple's "laser like" focus? They bought the Siri app many years ago that way back when could order movie tickets and reserve seats at restaurants (right?) and turned it into an OS service that doesn't seem to do very much. Apple is only NOW thinking of adding it to the desktop OS? Is Cortana really not as good as this?
    gatorguy
  • Reply 6 of 17
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,700member
    Before anyone claims this is a reaction to the AppleTV, this was announced over a year ago. 
    Way to defend, right on top of things! Not that it matters. I have 4 Xbox 360's, only 3 hooked up, and a Xbox One. I'm trying to remember how long it's been sense I turned on any Xbox. I don't remember. Nothing against the Xbox, but my time these days are limited. I got a Mic for my Windows computer before I upgraded to Windows 10 just for Cortana and you know how much I use it? Almost never!!!! At anytime I can just say Hey, Cortana and the window will pop up waiting for what I say next, but in general it's just faster to do it myself and get the results I want. Besides, I don't think there's that many Kinects connected to Xbox One's!!! MS did a dumb more and striped it from the console. Once that was done, it was no longer part of the system, but now a Add-On, and as anyone knows about add-on's, they almost ALWAYS fail. I can go through a big old list of failed add-on's on consoles over the years, but the point being, because of MS short sightedness, this is going to have very little impact. Because it's a add-on these days, support for the Kinect is pretty poor. It's the whole chicken and the egg. Game company's aren't going to support it if people don't own it, and People aren't going to buy it if games don't support it. Cortana support will get very few users to spend the money for the Kinect. It's not going take on anyone. It's dead before it even gets going. That's just a sad fact!!!
  • Reply 7 of 17
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,739member
    Everyone's really competing with Amazon's Echo, but the whole home automation thing looks to me like Silicon Valley chasing its own tail. Based on my admittedly limited experience, voice control is not the next great UI innovation.
    Silicon Valley and the tech press are constantly proclaiming something the next big thing (and Apple being doomed for not being in that thing). One minute it's VR, the next it's AR, or AI or voice or a combination of all of them. Now everyone is convinced voice is the next big thing in UI. Until of course it's not and the tech press has moved on to the next hyped thing.
    tmaycali
  • Reply 8 of 17
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,389member

    This may be different -- not your grandfather's voice recognition:

    Apple is working on an AI system that wipes the floor with Google and everyone else

    Siri is due for a big upgrade.

    Apple now has the tech in place to give its digital assistant a big boost thanks to a UK-based company called VocalIQ it bought last year.

    According to a source familiar with VocalIQ’s product, it’s much more robust and capable than Siri’s biggest competitors like Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

    In fact, it was so impressive that Apple bought VocalIQ before the company could finish and release its smartphone app.

    After the acquisition, Apple kept most of the VocalIQ team and let them work out of their Cambridge office and integrate the product into Siri.

    Before Apple bought the company, VocalIQ tested its product against Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, and the results were impressive. Users asked each AI questions using normal language, not the robotic commands you’re used to using with digital assistants. Those commands can be long and complicated, and the other assistants had trouble catching everything.

    For example, imagine asking a computer to “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and Wi-Fi that’s kid-friendly.” That’d trip up most assistants, but VocalIQ could handle it. The result? VocalIQ’s success rate was over 90%, while Google Now, Siri, and Cortana were only successful about 20% of the time, according to one source.


    VocalIQ may sound similar to Hound, a new digital-assistant app that launched on iPhone and Android recently, but Hound only works one session at a time. VocalIQ remembers context forever, just like a human can. That’s a massive breakthrough.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-apples-vocaliq-ai-works-2016-5?r=UK&IR=T

    And because of its tight integration of Apple's hardware and software, the New Siri could:
    • detect recurring patterns of requests
    • anticipate your future requests
    • integrate with your schedule, calendar, etc.
    • send notifications
    • invoke hardware/software commands to satisfy your needs

    Siri: "Tom, the Dubs game starts in 20 minutes ... shall I setup the TV?"

    Tom: "yes"


    or


    Siri:  "Ann, the teleconference is scheduled for 1:00 ...  shall I make the connections with all parties?"

    Ann:  "No, I need to reschedule that for 1:45, and Bill and Sally won't be attending"

    Siri:  "Got it!  I'll reschedule for 1:45, without Bill and Sally"


    Finally, I wonder if Siri on a shared device, say, the AppleTV, could perform voice recognition -- and serve several masters.

    edited June 2016 roundaboutnow
  • Reply 9 of 17
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,931member
    Forget Cortana. Did anyone get an invite for the Pied Piper beta? 
    edited June 2016 fastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 17
    the.bearthe.bear Posts: 14member
    Sigh. Why assume that every move that everyone makes is in response to something that Apple does or may do?

    Ask yourself. Is Microsoft competing with some future Siri speaker product that Apple may or may not release? Are they competing with the few million Apple TVs that Apple pushes a year that Apple may or may not add Siri to? Or are they trying to compete with Nintendo and Sony in the video game console market like they have been for nearly 20 years?

    Look, the next Nintendo console is being delayed to add VR capability. You can be certain that the next Playstation will integrate with Android Daydream VR also. How does Microsoft fight back? Making sure that the next XBox - or XBox refresh - supports both their HoloLens VR platform, which Sony and Nintendo can compete with ... and the digital assistant/AI app that Sony and Nintendo cannot.

    But sure, go ahead and think that Microsoft is trying to grab a slice of that booming 3 million units a year smart speaker market from Amazon, Google and Apple instead of being primarily concerned with the long existing competition in one of their long existing product lines. Wow ... step into a place where a product that one company may or may not ever introduce and may or may not commercially succeed if they do is more important than a business that a company has been in for nearly 20 years. And that place, that wondrous realm, is called ... the Twilight Zone!

    But then again, I guess that you can perhaps say that Microsoft was following Apple when they created the XBox in the first place because Apple had the Pippin gaming system first. Right?
    gatorguysingularitysirlance99
  • Reply 11 of 17
    gumbigumbi Posts: 148member
    the.bear said:
    Sigh. Why assume that every move that everyone makes is in response to something that Apple does or may do?

    Ask yourself. Is Microsoft competing with some future Siri speaker product that Apple may or may not release? Are they competing with the few million Apple TVs that Apple pushes a year that Apple may or may not add Siri to? Or are they trying to compete with Nintendo and Sony in the video game console market like they have been for nearly 20 years?

    Look, the next Nintendo console is being delayed to add VR capability. You can be certain that the next Playstation will integrate with Android Daydream VR also. How does Microsoft fight back? Making sure that the next XBox - or XBox refresh - supports both their HoloLens VR platform, which Sony and Nintendo can compete with ... and the digital assistant/AI app that Sony and Nintendo cannot.

    But sure, go ahead and think that Microsoft is trying to grab a slice of that booming 3 million units a year smart speaker market from Amazon, Google and Apple instead of being primarily concerned with the long existing competition in one of their long existing product lines. Wow ... step into a place where a product that one company may or may not ever introduce and may or may not commercially succeed if they do is more important than a business that a company has been in for nearly 20 years. And that place, that wondrous realm, is called ... the Twilight Zone!

    But then again, I guess that you can perhaps say that Microsoft was following Apple when they created the XBox in the first place because Apple had the Pippin gaming system first. Right?

    This is exactly right.  MS announced Cortana was coming to the Xbox One over a year ago - before Siri came to the Apple TV.   This is all part of the conversion of the Xbox to a Windows 10 based device.  There is much more to this upgrade than Cortana.  The Windows Store and the Xbox store are becoming one.  Applications targeted at the UWP will be available to the Xbox (at least where the developer chooses too).  It's all part of the expanding windows 10 UWP play.  Develop and application for UWP and it can target PC (desktop, laptop, tablet), Xbox, IoT (Rumor:  Band 3 will be running on Windows 10 IoT), HoloLens, and yes even Windows 10 Mobile.
    singularity
  • Reply 12 of 17
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,623member
    I find Cortana's voice recognition on my computer so laughably bad I've had to remove it; so massively bad.
    Siri's voice recognition is pretty good though it often misunderstand what I want to do if I don't use specific phrasing.

    This is to protect the Xbox mainly, not compete directly against the Apple TV or whatever Google or Amazon are doing.
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 13 of 17
    The chasm of difference between MS and Apple products are that people actually USE Apple products because they're designed to be picked up and used without needing a lesson in how to decypher some obscure Windows UI which "made sense" to a programmer in Redmond, and imminent announcements from Apple actually cause a frenzy... why? Because Apple understands and gets that the average, normal person is a normal, average human being, not a UI designer with back-to-front ideas of interface hierarchy, context and action button priorities.

    Cortana's voice is nice in the UK - if she were real, I'd ask her out for dinner - but Apple products DOMINATE, and they're EVERYWHERE, 24 hours a day, IN YOUR POCKET. I can't take Microsoft seriously any more, I really don't know what planet they're from, but Windows 10 Mobile STILL hasn't been officially released, and I soon turned back around and came home from the brief excursion to Windows 10 Desktop land - UGH - okay, it's nicer than SOME old versions, but I just get this very uneasy, unfocused feeling from Microsoft - it's like there's an underlying feeling that you KNOW they have no confidence or assertion about their future, and yet they put on this lip service and whole act when they're asked about things... like we're that easily fooled.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    I'm just waiting on inter-platform commands from Cortana, i.e. "Hey Cortana, turn on my xbox" or "Hey Cortana, send a text from my business phone". I think that'd be pretty neat
  • Reply 15 of 17
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 909member
    Apple is rumored to be working on an upgraded Apple TV that could have its own microphone and speaker, allowing for always-listening capabilities without the need to have the Siri Remote in hand. Such additions would allow Apple to compete not only with the likes of Cortana on Xbox One, but also dedicated in-home personal assistants like Amazon Echo, or Google's forthcoming Home hardware.
    These things arnt really competing. Xbox is first and foremost a games console, Apple TV isn't. If you arn't after a games console then Xbox would make a really rubbish alternative to the Apple TV. Yes it does have lots of media options but the UI is really organised around games. e.g. Adverts are for games, shortcuts get you to finding friends online.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 909member
    Everyone's really competing with Amazon's Echo, but the whole home automation thing looks to me like Silicon Valley chasing its own tail. Based on my admittedly limited experience, voice control is not the next great UI innovation.
    Silicon Valley and the tech press are constantly proclaiming something the next big thing (and Apple being doomed for not being in that thing). One minute it's VR, the next it's AR, or AI or voice or a combination of all of them. Now everyone is convinced voice is the next big thing in UI. Until of course it's not and the tech press has moved on to the next hyped thing.
    People have been claiming voice to be the next big thing for as long as I can remember. But I don't see it happening, buttons are just quicker. Not even taking into account devices not hearing you or any other reason you may have to repeat yourself. In a lot of scenarios it's just quicker to press a button than to say the word.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Silicon Valley and the tech press are constantly proclaiming something the next big thing (and Apple being doomed for not being in that thing). One minute it's VR, the next it's AR, or AI or voice or a combination of all of them. Now everyone is convinced voice is the next big thing in UI. Until of course it's not and the tech press has moved on to the next hyped thing.
    People have been claiming voice to be the next big thing for as long as I can remember. But I don't see it happening, buttons are just quicker. Not even taking into account devices not hearing you or any other reason you may have to repeat yourself. In a lot of scenarios it's just quicker to press a button than to say the word.
    I use Cortana on my phone to set reminders because it is a lot quicker than doing it manually.  I don't think voice will ever get much traction outside of the home as there are numerous negative social issues.
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