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Forget Siri: Microsoft bringing Halo’s Cortana to its phones

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(Credit: Microsoft)

Helping Master Chief out of perilous predicaments is one thing, but can Cortana help you get to your meeting on time?

Microsoft is working on a digital personal assistant for its Windows Phones to compete with Apple’s Siri and Android's Google Now. And it has chosen the beloved Halo artificial intelligence character as its namesake.

Like the game character, Microsoft wants Cortana the personal assistant to be able to learn and adapt. To do this, it will use the same knowledge well that powers the Bing search engine, according to ZDNet.

She'll be more than just a voice interaction as well. Cortana is integral to Microsoft's stated plan to better personalize its user interfaces, something outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer talked up in July.

"Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world," he said. "Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."

The release is said to be part of a Windows Phone upgrade that's due out early next year. And it could find its way to the Xbox One at some point as well.

In addition to answering voice-based questions like Siri, Cortana will seemingly automatically pull weather information, calendar events and notifications into a central hub. One thing we wouldn't advise getting your hopes up for, though, is a naked blue lady appearing on your phone's screen with the voice of Jen Taylor.

There are, of course, some dangers in using Cortana's name as part of this initiative. As we all learned in Halo 4, after seven years or so Cortana becomes Rampant, a state of over-knowledge that makes AIs 'think' themselves to death.

Then again, that might not be a real concern. Who keeps a cell phone for seven years these days?

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