Microsoft’s Cortana silenced as Apple’s Siri gets new voice.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant called Cortana was designed to compete with Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, is to be retired on mobile.
The hashtag #RIPCortana was trending on twitter as users reminisced or in some cases showed how forgettable the virtual assistant had been all this years.
Meanwhile, Apple’s Siri will no longer be used as default to a female voice in English.
The use of a female voice for virtual assistants has long been a controversial debate for gender-typing a helpful, virtual companion.
Microsoft’s Cortana was released in 2014 as a virtual assistant for Windows phones. It was named after the advanced artificial intelligence guide in Microsoft’s then best-selling Halo game series.
Three years later, Microsoft left behind its smartphone operating system, although Cortana remained available on Android devices.
Microsoft ended support for Cortana integration as a voice assistant on most platforms in the last summer and January.
According to Ben Wood, chief analyst at research firm CSS Insight said: “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 despite making huge investments to drive the platform to the next level”.
Microsoft has made an amazing decision to integrate Cortana into specific Microsoft platforms, rather than being a generic voice assistant designed to be all things to all people.”
Apples’s Female voice
Microsoft rival Apple has added two new voices to its virtual assistant named Siri, as well as removing the default female voice in the latest version of iOS.
In 2019 a report by UNESCO suggested that using female 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 company said of its decision to put the responsibility on users to choose the voice of its assistant of their choice: “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 countries and languages, Siri already defaults to a male voice.