Cortana has been available on Windows 10 and the Xbox One for a while, but Microsoft has ambitions for its virtual assistant that go beyond traditional computers. And at the Build 2017 developer conference, the company gave us our first look at how Cortana works away from a computer in devices like the recently announced Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker and a demo car.
Similar to its biggest competitors, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, Cortana is able to perform the usual gamut of daily schedule reminders, travel plans, and simple queries. But Microsoft also showed how Cortana skills can be used to tie into office tools and apps, like a corporate timesheet system, allowing the assistant to more seamlessly hook into the services you use.
Additionally, Microsoft showed off how the cross platform nature of Cortana can extend its assistant’s usefulness, with Cortana working contextually based on which device you’re using it on. For example, if you receive a message while driving a car, Cortana will offer to remind you about it when you get to your desk where you can properly respond, or supply a summary of the message instead of reading the entire thing.
We still don’t have a good timeline for when to expect these new Cortana integrations, but Microsoft is working on it: the Invoke speaker is set to hit this fall, the company has partnerships with BMW and Nissan, and there are plans in the works to further expand the digital assistant to a wide range of IoT-connected devices.