Microsoft’s Cortana silenced as Siri will get new voice

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By Jane Wakefield

Technology reporter

picture copyrightGetty Images

picture captionThe voice assistant is saying goodbye to cellular customers

Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant designed to compete with Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, is to be retired on cellular.

Instead it’s going to concentrate on providing productiveness assist in Windows 10, Outlook and Teams.

The hashtag #RIPCortana was getting used on Twitter, as individuals reminisced – or in some circumstances identified how forgettable the assistant had been.

Meanwhile, Apple’s Siri will now not default to a feminine voice in English.

The use of a feminine voice for digital assistants has lengthy been controversial for gender-typing a useful, digital companion.

Cortana was unveiled in 2014 as a digital assistant for Windows telephones. It was named after the superior synthetic intelligence information in Microsoft’s then best-selling Halo sport sequence.

Three years later, Microsoft deserted its smartphone working system, though Cortana remained accessible for iPhones and Android gadgets.

The demise of the voice assistant on most platforms was introduced final summer time and in January, Microsoft ended help for Cortana integration within the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. It provided speaker homeowners who used Cortana, a $50 Microsoft reward card.

picture copyrightGetty Images

picture captionCortana didn’t meet up with the recognition of Amazon Alexa and Google’s Assistant

Ben Wood, chief analyst at analysis agency CSS Insight stated: “There was a certain inevitability to Microsoft abandoning the consumer-centric variant of Cortana. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are the mass market voice assistants of choice, leaving little space for rivals.

“Even the mighty Apple has struggled to get traction with Siri regardless of making large investments to drive the platform ahead.

“Microsoft has made a sensible decision to double down on Cortana as a platform to aid productivity gains, closely tied to its business-centric tools and services. Increasingly Cortana will become deeply integrated into specific Microsoft platforms, rather than being a generic voice assistant designed to be all things to all people.”

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Female voice

Rival Apple has added two new voices to its assistant Siri, in addition to eliminating the default feminine voice within the newest model of iOS.

In 2019 a report by UNESCO urged that utilizing feminine voices by default for voice assistants “sends a signal that women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command”.

Apple stated of its choice to place the onus on customers to decide on the voice of its assistant: “This is a continuation of Apple’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.”

In some international locations and languages, Siri already defaults to a male voice.