Hey, it’s Cortana

One of my morning news feeds is Microsoft specific.  This morning, it was flooded with the news that Microsoft had released Cortana for the iPad.  Story after story after story about it.

There’s my call to action.

So, I went to the Apple App Store and, not surprisingly, it was the first result for a Cortana search.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the only result.  So, I made sure that I had the one from Microsoft and downloaded it.

To be honest, I expected to find out that it wouldn’t run on my device.  After all, Siri won’t run on it.  Apple stopped updating the OS on the iPad2 a long time ago.  So, I was pleasantly surprised that Cortana installed without a complaint.

Now, to test it….  Then, you have one of those moments when you realize that these digital assistants want to have access to your entire life.  It needed permission to use my microphone, access to photos, calendar, contacts, …  It’s too bad there wasn’t a button that said “You already have access to all that on my Windows 10 computer, knock yourself out”.  A few permissions granted later and I’m looking at an extremely clean interface.  Now, I could have typed my query like I would normally on Windows 10 but decided to use the microphone.

“What’s the weather in Pong.., Pyong…, Pyeong…, How many times have I heard it on television in the last week?

I couldn’t pronounce it correctly so it was easier to say “South Korea”.  If you look at the results, Cortana knew what I meant and responded appropriately.

CortanaSo, a tap later and I would be on an an appropriate web resource.

What would Google do?  On my iPad, I also have the Google Application.  I asked the exact same question and got this.


What would Siri do?  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out since I can’t install it.

I’m still up in the air about where or if digital assistants are going to run/take over my life. Heck, I’m still trying to get my head around the difference between the Google App and the Google Assistant.

I still like the concept of typing because it’s mostly accurate as opposed to voice recognition.

I’m still at the playing point and don’t really have a complete opinion yet.  But, as any kindergarten teacher will tell you, playing is good.  I’m fully aware that both are calling home to Bing and Google in the process.

So, I have two opinions that I can turn to if I need to on my iPad.

Just not Apple’s.

3 thoughts on “Hey, it’s Cortana

  1. I think you had me at the line, “Playing is good!” It’s hard to argue that. 🙂

    In all seriousness, thanks for giving me some options that I can explore on my iPad 2. While I usually use my new iPad, our students use my older one, and this might help them as they attempt to do some writing. The other day, a child also wanted to Google “how to make a paper sailboat.” While she used the sounds that she knew and read the choices as they appeared in the search bar, one of these applications might have been another good one to try.

    I guess it’s time that I started playing! 🙂


  2. Good morning Doug!

    So I see from your screen captures that each query replied with a list of links. Was there any audible voice response?

    I have become quite enamoured with the ability to use voice-to-text for a quick interaction on a tablet or phone. There’s no way I would type as much or as quickly with fingers on a touch device as I can through voice dictation. That option is one of the attractions with assistants like Siri on iOS and Google Assistant on a Google Home device.

    The other half of the experience, which I find to be much more useful in appropriate situations, is when the assistant provides the response in an aural format as well. It’s a far different interaction from one that requires you to look at the screen for the reply. In most instances, if the assistant replies with a list of web results, it’s not really giving me anything that I couldn’t do myself in the first place by doing a web search. I tend to use the assistant for things that allow it to reply with a specific response that results in it either doing something concrete or saying something.

    I remember when Siri first arrived on the iPhone. It was with the 4S version of the device — there was some debate as to whether the S stood for Steve or Siri — but there is no doubt that Siri was not supported on older devices because of the hardware requirements. The same goes for voice to text on the older devices. The little microphone for voice entry does not appear in the keyboard. Because Siri arrived in the refresh year of the two-year iPhone 4/4S cycle, It wasn’t until the 5 arrived that I had a device that supported Siri. For certain applications, that back-and-forth oral-aural interaction with a mobile device is a game-changer. The same can be said for the Google home mini device that flooded the markets just before Christmas at $39.

    Cortana sits there when I boot up into Windows 10, but I haven’t found myself using it because when I use my computer, I’m sitting down to do something already. Similarly, the addition of Siri to MacOS hasn’t really changed my experience for the same reason. When I’m sitting at the keyboard I tend not to talk to the computer (except when it does something stupid that irritates me).

    So far, I have found that the two-way hands-free experience is the true strength of the assistant. It takes the voice entry and then responds with either an action or an audible reply. I have used Google Assistant only sparingly on my phone because Siri is native on the device and it works at the level of the operating system without requiring the launching of a specific app. Now that I think about it, I am asking myself if I have ever heard a voice come back from Google assistant on the phone. I do remember being surprised that I had to look at the screen for a reply, and I think I will need to experiment a little further to see if the only reply is in the text bubble chart format that I remember seeing. Perhaps Cortana gives the same type of response?

    Here are the things that I find to be the most beneficial applications of the little Google Home Mini device that I got for Christmas:

    1) OK Google, tell me a joke.
    (This might make you laugh: Which horse runs the city? The mare, of course.)

    2) OK Google, what is the weather today?
    (In Belleville today, it will be mostly sunny, with a forecasted high of three and a low of zero. Right now it is -3, and mostly cloudy.)

    3) Hey Google what time is it?

    4) Hey Google, play me some downtempo instrumental.
    (Sure. Here is a Google Play station called Downtempo instrumental.) Music ensues.

    5) Hey Google, stop the music.
    6) Hey Google, stop the music.
    7) Hey Google, stop the music.
    8) (basically yelling) Hey Google, stop the music.
    (Music stops. Mood achieved by listening to downtempo instrumental music effectively destroyed.)

    9) Hey Google, set an alarm for 7:15
    (Alright, your alarm is set for 7:15 AM)

    10) hey google send a text message to Doug Peterson.
    (Sorry, I can’t send texts yet.)

    Picks up phone.
    Hey Siri send an email to Doug Peterson
    (What’s the subject of the email?)
    Hey Doug!
    (Hey Doug. OK what would you like the email to say?
    Doug, I’m sending you this email using voice to text and Siri with
    (Here is your your message to Doug Peterson. Ready to send?)
    (What would you like to add to your message?)
    absolutely zero tapping on the screen.
    (Here is your your message to Doug Peterson. Ready to send?)
    (OK, I’ll send it.) Email sound.

    It’s interesting to note that the voice-to-text on the iPad captured most of the back-and-forth dialogue with Siri on my phone. I had to edit it for formatting and line breaks, and to add the parentheses to indicate what Siri said. Siri‘s voice is clear enough to be picked up by voice to text. The same did not hold true for capturing the Google assistant voice. It would be interesting to see if voice to text within the chrome browser understands the Google assistant voice. That’s a little experiment for another day.


  3. Thanks for my grin of the day. Okay, two grins, I smiled at Andy’s joke. I get a huge kick out of the fact that your iPad 2 can use 2 helpers, but not the native one. One downside to planned obsolescence for Apple. I also appreciated Aviva’s idea, as I have 2 2s in my classroom for student use. Cortana might be helpful there.


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