back to article Who would win a fight between Cortana and Android?

Microsoft's removed the “Hey Cortana” voice activation feature from its Cortana Android app. Cortana is Microsoft's digital assistant, a cloudy entity to which one can pose spoken questions in order to search the 'net instead of going through the unpleasant business of typing or poking a touch screen. Microsoft, Google and …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Another Problem

    Android phones already have a voice activated system which apparently most users are satisfied with if they even use it. So why would they consider installing Cortana or any other similar app. This functionality is consider a core feature of the system so the developers will try to tightly integrate it into the system.

    1. jjcoolaus

      For Windows 10 integration

      The idea behind having cortana available on iOS and Android is the dream of having seamless voice activation between all your devices. That is the utopia that Microsoft wants to achieve so that more advertising revenue comes it's way.

      Google makes money from android by selling you (the apps you use, the sites you visit, the words you type in e-mails) and recently Apple and Microsoft have wanted a piece of that pie too.

      Microsoft has this idea where you saying "hey cortana I need to visit shop x at 12pm tomorrow, remind me on my phone and give me directions" on your PC could then seamlessly have cortana on your phone do all the same things.

      Likewise they want "hey cortana remind me to send an e-mail and produce a sales report for Joe in Excel using the jo-report-template next time on my PC" is something someone could say and all those things would happen.

      My imagination isn't quite there with this, apparently there is pretty cool integration where you could do all sorts of stuff with it but you get the idea.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: For Windows 10 integration

        Surely it's got to be simpler just saying "Hey, Jack it's your round you tight bassa, get them in."

      2. Bert 1

        Re: For Windows 10 integration

        Its much simpler to use a to do list.

        If you ONLY get the reminder to construct the spreadsheet next time you are on your PC, you might miss an opportunity when sitting at a laptop, or someone else's PC, or the spare Linux one you're dabbling with.

        Give me a single list, and let me decide how & when to action the items on it.

        1. jjcoolaus

          Re: For Windows 10 integration

          For the record, I've never used voice activation services - I think it's just a bit wanky to talk to your phone unless it's ultra useful, like when you are driving for example.

          I too prefer to use to-do-lists and I use google keep to remind me of what needs to be done and when.

      3. Paul Shirley


        @jjcoolaus "seamless voice activation between all your devices"

        Sounds great. Until my tablet races my phone to answer "OK Google" requests, both speaking to me in different accents (given up trying to fix that), gibbering different answers because they misheard me in sightly different ways. Sometimes with the phone sitting in a different room because it's microphone is very good.

        It gets annoying real fast ;)

      4. DougS Silver badge


        How exactly is Apple "selling you" in the way Google and Microsoft does? Apple explicitly goes out of their way to NOT do this, i.e. by not sharing info with the retailer about who you are when you buy something via Apple Pay. Microsoft seems to have decided to go down this path since Windows 10, but don't paint Apple with the same brush. Not saying they are perfect but comparing them to the way Google sells you out is ridiculous.

        1. jjcoolaus

          Re: @jjcoolaus

          Apple sells a lot less information than the other companies, sure, but they still sell information about app purchases as a good example.

          Not sure if we are allowed to link here, but this article explains in detail what each company does and doesn't do with data it collects about you:

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    It appears to me that Google has pulled on MS what MS pulled on many competitors in the not so distant past. Turnabout is fair play

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Aka 'capitalism'!

    2. h4rm0ny

      >>"Turnabout is fair play"

      Well, if you think there are only two parties - Google and Microsoft - involved. But there's a third: us the customers.

      It was wrong when MS used to do it. It's wrong when Google do it. Speaking as a customer I want to make my purchasing decisions based on carrot, not stick.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        In corporate warfare, customers are considered collateral damage along with the IT support people.

  3. John Tserkezis

    I want to see Cortana vs Siri.

    Nothing like a good girl fight.

    Not that I condone violence, but since they're not real - Bring it on!

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: I want to see Cortana vs Siri.

      Well, it's really at least Round 2 with the previous round being Google Search versus Bing. I think it is pretty clear who is the winner in that battle.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    voice recognition

    is still crap, higher fail rate than typing... life is too short.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: voice recognition

      No typing on a smart phone. You must have smaller fingers than me.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: voice recognition

        Google do a fairly good job, way too error prone for anything longer than a few words, but it does go back and correct itself if it sees a contextual error. But we're not in three utopian future yet, and get far more accurate typing from swiping-style keyboards

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: voice recognition

      Really? I think Google has done some serious work in this area. It's like 99% accurate for me, and only a bit dodgy with lots of background noise. I use Google now most days in the car (usually asking it to play music).

      I find it superior to all the others by a VERY long way.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: voice recognition

        Problem with 99% accuracy is that it isn't 100%. It means having to go back and correct, which is certainly impossible to do with voice commands, so you're pawing the screen anyway...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: voice recognition

      I do get pretty good recognition with Google. Only issue is when I'm connected with a cheap bin-end bluetooth speaker in the car as a temporary replacement for a broken head unit.

      If I switch bluetooth off, even driving down the motorway at speed, it recognises me pretty well and can easily send a reasonable message via whatsapp to a contact for instance.

      The issue is it gets very stubborn when it doesn't understand a word and you don't have a way (afaik) of telling it got a word wrong and to try to correct it (the Dragon Dictate way of "correct that"). So it keeps showing the wrong word.

      My radio started firing off Google Now randomly with tlak items when they weren't saying anything like "OK Google". I cleared the sound profiles and retrained and it's much better.

  5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Soon every gadget will be able to wreck a nice beach

    Phillip J. Fry Demonstrates what speech recognition will be like in a thousand years:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Soon every gadget will be able to wreck a nice beach

      Exactly. Then someone will get a loud hailer and tell everyone

      "Cortana, Siri, Go fuck yourself and be quiet while you are doing it."

      The world is becoming ever noisier. For those of us with tinitus actually hearing what people are saying is just becoming impossible.

      Can't people (and their toys) just shut up! The world will be a much calmer (and nicer) place.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Soon every gadget will be able to wreck a nice beach

        "Can't people (and their toys) just shut up! The world will be a much calmer (and nicer) place."


        We've just got a local Lidl & it took me a little while to realise why it's so much pleasanter place than the local alternatives:

        No bloody backgorund music.

        No bloody $chain "radio" spewing a mixture of garbage & ads.

        The mini stollen (described by a friend as "more addictive than heroin") are almost a bonus....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Soon every gadget will be able to wreck a nice beach

        I can get the millineals not recognizing the privacy issue with voice operating one's devices, but should recognize consideration for other's space. Unless they also lack consideration entirely.

  6. P. Lee

    >Microsoft's smarting because it mostly missed mobile.

    Maybe, but it was always going to be a struggle to sensibly license MS apps on a less capable platform. That's why Apple started from scratch and has only recently brought Pages et al to its mobile world. Without its existing code- and developer-base, MS really doesn't have a lot going for it. As low power systems catch up, things like the surface4 become viable and MS has a chance.

    As for voice control, outside of controlling a phone while driving where fingers are verboten, I doubt there is much call for it.

  7. BurnT'offering


    "Hey Cortana - say, "Hey Cortana""

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Microsoft, Google and Apple all suggest ...

    Amazon has a creepy thing that lurks in your living room.

    Are these things are gimmicks for people that:

    a) Can't type

    b) Can't use search properly

    Do they actually manage as well as an 8 year old with a laptop and Google Search?

    "Wee Jimmy, find me a deep fried pizza"

  9. aldolo

    ok google too isn't perfect

    on 3 devices: 1st ok, 2nd ko at all,3rd ok but only with an old version of the software (and please do not update)

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Hey Cortana do I change your wake-up phrase to something less dorky and more localised to the way I speak? I'm not American and don't start every conversation with "Hey!"

    Ditto for SIri and Google of course. After all, we don't want everyones phones waking up at the same time so a personalised wake-up phrase seem like an obvious and easy to implement requirement to me.

    1. BurnT'offering

      Re: Hey Cortana

      On the other hand, it's quicker than "I say Cortana, old gel, would you mind awfully listening to what I'm about to say, if it's not too much trouble? Thanks ever so much, you are a dear."

      Or use the Essex version: "Oi, Cortina!"

  11. Quortney Fortensplibe

    OK Gargle

    "...Ditto for Siri and Google of course. After all, we don't want everyones phones waking up at the same time so a personalised wake-up phrase seem like an obvious and easy to implement requirement to me..."

    And while you're at it, could we have more choice of voices?

    Google's default UK English female voice sounds like a Kwik-Save Mariella Frostrup after a particularly heavy session on the Benson & Hedges. I know us blokes are meant to find the "husky" female voice sexy, but I'm afraid the "I'm gargling half a pound of phlegm here, while talking to you" sound doesn't really do it for me.

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