According to a report by Mary Jo Foley, “Cortana,” named after the holographic AI from Halo, is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now, but more than just a voice assistant app.
Per Foley’s report, in addition to handling voice commands like its competitors, Cortana integrates into the Windows Phone shell, and provides personalization for the entire user interface.
References to the technology, shown as “zCortana,” appeared in leaked screenshots of an early Windows Phone OS build earlier this year. While the presence of that app didn’t inspire much interest from the rumor mill, Foley says that Cortana is a key part of Microsoft’s mobile strategy moving forward, as the company tries to pull market share from iOS and Android, something that has proven difficult.
All that said, Cortana may not be coming to Windows Phones any time soon. While Steve Ballmer has been talking about Microsoft’s efforts with regard to interface customization since 2011, Foley’s sources say it could take until 2016 before Cortana makes it into your phone.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.