Could Cortana Be Coming to Android and iOS?

Cortana, the digital personal assistant familiar to users of Windows phones, could soon show up on devices running Android and iOS, according to an exclusive report Friday by Reuters. Before that, though, it will next appear on PCs with the rollout of the Windows 10 operating system this fall.

Named after an artificial intelligence (AI) featured in the video game Halo, Cortana on Windows phones displays a sassy "personality" much like her gaming namesake. Microsoft researchers are now looking into ways to make the digital assistant even more intelligent, helpful and even human-like through a project called "Einstein," Reuters reported.

The revelation that Cortana could makes its way onto devices made by Microsoft's rivals is news that hasn't been reported before, the article noted. However, it added, that development is in keeping with Microsoft's new efforts to promote its software for use on platforms other than its own.

AI Research to 'Make Life Easier'

Citing comments made during an interview with Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, Reuters reported that the Einstein project is aimed at creating a smarter digital assistant that can "provide the most support services that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that helps us get things done."

The prospect of Cortana coming to other operating systems raises the AI stakes for both Apple and Google, which both have personal assistant technologies of their own. Apple's Siri, which has appeared on iPhones and other iOS devices since 2011, answers questions and provides other assistance using natural-language technology. Google, developer of the Android operating system, offers a similar assistant in the form of Google Now, rolled out in 2013.

Horvitz's biography on Microsoft's Web site says he is "pursuing research on principles of machine intelligence and on leveraging the complementarities of...

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