Microsoft Cortana Smarter Than Google Now?

Microsoft Cortana

Are you a fan of Google now or Siri? Forget these as Microsoft released its new virtual assistant. Virtual assistant named Cortana namely has more mobile brains than its perpetual rivals. Announced at the company’s latest press event in San Francisco, virtual assistant Cortana will be integrated into the latest Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone OS and rely primarily on the Bing’s search engine and voice recognition software. And, unlike Siri, Cortana has some attitude. Ask Cortana who’s her dad, and Cortana will answer: “Technically, he’s Bill Gates. No big deal.”

Microsoft states Cortana has the ability to pay complete attention to your interests, the places you visit and what are you searching for. That said, Cortana will offer very tailored search results and suggestions. Not only that, Cortana adapts to your needs as it gets smarter the more you use it.

It is important to mention that Cortana has more skills in its arsenal. Cortana has the capability of keeping track of your flights, digging into associated details to serve you better and checking when your next appointments are. This virtual assistant also remembers your previous question so that you don’t have to repeat yourself for a follow-up. For example, Cortana, the virtual assistant by Microsoft, will be able to enter your appointment details to, say, call the hotel or restaurant where you are planning on having dinner and adjust the reservation if necessary.

Even more, you will be able to ask Microsoft’s Cortana to perform voice assistant tasks like saving calendar reminders. Where the company expects Cortana to really surpass its rivals is in the realm of contextual awareness. Also, there are reports that Cortana will have a special feature where users can toggle options like personal information, location data and contact information individually, to help keep whatever secrets you have out of Cortana’s digital hands.

Additionally, you can tell Cortana to create reminders and notes centered around people and co-workers. For example, it has the feature to remind you to ask about your brother’s puppy the next time he calls. The virtual assistant is also supposed to be intelligent enough to understand many different queries using simple, natural language. For example, Windows Phone users can say, “Twitter, what’s up with my friends?” and Cortana will give you a detailed report of your friend’s recent Twitter activity.

While I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked taking a demo Windows Phone for a spin, I have been able to give Cortana a quick test drive. At the Microsoft’s press event I have played with older Lumia 1020 handsets tricked out to run Windows Phone 8.1.

Maybe it was because the demo phone didn’t have a live SIM card and I have been connected to the on-site wireless network, but Cortana was not very nimble. In fact, Cortana took about 10 seconds to return search results. It is very obvious that this is way longer than Google Now or Siri.

The user interface is not as slick as Google Now or Siri as you must tapon a very small microphone icon in the Bing toolbar or hit the Cortana icon to begin searches. This is frustrating and it is nowhere as easy as saying, “Okay, Google Now” on a Motorola Droid phone which launches a query and even wakes up the device from sleep.

Also, it has been frustrating that I couldn’t try out the more advanced abilities Cortana is touted to have as Microsoft explained these abilities were not installed on the demo Lumia phone. That said, it certainly all sounds very futuristic. Microsoft explained that Cortana is still officially in beta. I realize some bugs and functions still need to be fixed and worked out before the virtual assistant arrives on new Windows phones in the following months.

How “Do Not Track” Can Affect Your Website

Do Not Track

Many of your must be wondering what exactly is “DNT – Do Not Track” tool that you often get to see in the browser. Well, “Do Not Track” (DNT) is a privacy setting for browsers and is currently supported in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. Once you enable the setting, your browser will send information to the advertising networks, websites and applications about your requirements. For example: if you want to opt-out of tracking for behavioral advertising, you can enable DNT setting and it will perform the further actions.

How Do You Implement DNT

Do Not Track – DNT is basically a draft specification and not a different technology all together. Technically speaking, when you enable the setting, the browser sends a field named DNT with a value of 1 in the HTTP header. This is then detected by the web server you use with the help of PHP or any other code. Let’s understand this concept with the following example:

<?php

$DNT = ‘HTTP_DNT’;

if (isset($_SERVER[$DNT]) && $_SERVER[$DNT] == 1) {

// DO NOT TRACK enabled

}

else {

// DO NOT TRACK disabled

}

?>

What Is The Server Application Reaction To It?

DNT is voluntary and can be used by anyone, anytime and anywhere. However, the requirement of DNT is a bit unclear to many users. As a matter of fact, DNT settings do not affect individual tracking on single applications or websites. It rather prevents your actions being tracked across two or more sites. This clearly indicates that as a user you must not assign any kind of unique ID for specific accounts (via a third-party cookie) as they move from one domain to another. Now let’s discuss how “Do Not Track” affect applications on a whole.

Advertising Networks

If you have read an advertisement on Site A, then as per the DNT rules the same ad will not be shown to you on site B. DNT will prevent similar adverts being displayed by the same organization. In addition to it, if the user has seeked permission to display the topic of interest, the network will then, serve only relevant advertisements based on the interests and preferences.

Social Plugins

DNT also affects social plug-ins system. For example: consider Facebook “Like” system in this case. Once DNT is enabled, you will not be able to see the list of your friends who have liked a specific page. This is because this activity requires to track you as an individual on a site, which is not actually “Facebook.com” itself.

Website Analytics

Most of the systems such as Google Analytics will be permitted to compare and analyze the user data, even when “Do Not Track” is enabled. This happens when one or the other below mentioned conditions applies:

● When the volume of visitors tracking is low or limited to individual websites.

● When the data of a site is focussed separately for each domain.

However, in other conditions, the Analytics organization would not be permitted to collate or even use the data for their own purposes.

Remember that “Do Not Track” option will not protect you from web sites that totally ignore the “Do Not Track” request. Nevertheless, it can be considered to be a small step in the direction of protecting personal and important details online.