Microsoft prepping rival to Apple's Siri based on Halo video game charcter

Apple's iOS has Siri and Google's Android has Google Now, but what about Microsoft's Windows Phone? According to new reports, the Redmond-based firm is pursuing its own digital assistant, which will be based on a character from the Halo video game series.

As reported by ZDNet and WMPoweruser, the next version of Windows Phone - 8.1 - will include a voice-activated assistant known as Cortana.

Cortana has been featured in a number of versions of Halo.

A Microsoft spokesman has said that the firm had nothing to announce. But reports about a Siri-like app for Windows Phone have been making the rounds for a few months now.

In June, WPCentral published early screenshots of Windows Phone 8.1, which referenced something known as "zCortanaApp." The following month, a Bing executive told CNET that Microsoft would not release a Siri competitor until "we have something more revolutionary than evolutionary," though he conceded that "there are teams working hot and heavy on this right now."

So what did they come up with? According to ZDNet, Cortana on your phone will be much like Cortana in the video game world - learning and adapting to your behaviour. It will tap into Windows and Xbox as well as Windows Phone.

ZDNet pointed to Steve Ballmer's recent note to employees about the company's "One Microsoft" strategy. In it, he called for a "deeply personalized" UI that will "be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."

Microsoft will reportedly incorporate technology from TellMe, which it acquired in 2007. That led to the Redmond firm's first app for Windows Mobile in April 2009 — a downloadable program that let users dictate text messages, dial phone numbers, or search the Internet by voice.

When Apple unveiled Siri in 2011, Microsoft was quick to point out that thanks to TellMe, it had already had Siri-like tech for years.

TellMe apparently isn't quite cutting it these days. Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows Phone 8.1 this autumn, so stay tuned to see what Cortana can do.

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