Microsoft is stepping up the predictive abilities of its Cortana virtual assistant application with a new set of features the show just how much the app knows about its users. Cortana is like a blend of Siri’s voice interface with Google Now’s concept of information cards, and Microsoft — a late-comer to mobile phone legitimacy — seems determined to make it better than both.
Among the new features are reminders for stuff happening in the evening, such as dinner dates or commute times to home, and another for keeping track of flights users have looked up more than once. Cortana also now recommends geographically relevant apps (the blog post announcing the features gives the example of the Disneyland app when someone is in Anaheim) and reminds users of apps they’ve already downloaded that might be useful based on where they are.
A potentially cool feature for music fans tracks users’ searches and recommends nearby concerts based on what Cortana has inferred their interests are. However, my music library might be a better place from which to infer that information — I recently searched for Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande just to find out who they are.
Still, even though Cortana seems like it might be better than [company]Google[/company] Now in some ways, they also seem similar enough that don’t have much incentive to find out. If I were just looking into my first smartphone purchase, though, and the price was right, a better personalization experience might seal the deal.