This is pretty freaking awesome.
“The Xbox One‘s heavy reliance on the Kinect for voice commands will eventually include two-way conversations, according to two sources who tested out the still-in-development feature.”
“Xbox One’s ability to speak will allow it to function more like the iPhone’s Siri, according to Microsoft officials who presented the feature.”
I had mostly forgotten about Polygon’s report, because there really wasn’t much follow-up or other news sites picking up on it, until today. (Note: Polygon also reports that you can remotely control your friends games on Xbox One via Skype)
Microsoft is currently testing and readying a Windows Phone 8.1 update that is believed to include a new personal assistant. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that the Siri-like feature, codenamed "Cortana" after the Halo character, will let Windows Phone users interact with a handset through voice commands. Windows Phone already includes basic voice commands, but Cortana looks to be a step further with a system that will learn and adapt.
Steve Ballmer has promised a "service-enabled shell" for Microsoft's devices, and Foley claims Cortana is central to this new shell for Windows Phone, Windows, and Xbox One. It's not clear exactly how Cortana will work on Windows Phone, but screenshots of Windows Phone 8.1 earlier this year revealed that Microsoft is already testing the technology. The Verge has obtained additional screenshots of Cortana in action. It looks like Microsoft is testing the ability to pull in weather information, notifications, and calendar events into a single central interface. The interface also includes location information, and access to Bluetooth controls. Microsoft has previously shown concepts of a voice-activated personal assistant for Windows Phone, and it could be ready to now make it a reality.
That "shell" is more than just the Metro/Modern/tiled interface. Ballmer continued:
"Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."
The coming shell won't simply surface information stored on users' phones, PCs and consoles like a search engine can do today. It also will "broker information among our services to bring them together on our devices in ways that will enable richer and deeper app experiences," Ballmer said in his memo. (That "brokering" is handled by Bing's Satori, which intelligently interconnects entities, i.e., information about people, places and things.)
But other Microsoft execs said that this kind of assistant would be unlikely to appear until somewhere between 2014 and 2016. Earlier this summer, Bing officials told CNET that Microsoft had decided to wait until it had something revolutionary, instead of evolutionary, to debut this kind of new assistant technology.
Cortana is yet another reason why Microsoft is unlikely to sell off Bing. Bing is more than a Web search engine; it's also the indexing and graphing technology that will be powering Microsoft's operating systems, too.
OK I have been dreaming about voice recognition in Halo 5 to control and interact with marines in co-op. But I didn't think about this. That would be pretty bad ass.
Speaking of Halo it seems 343 has some unnanounced projects...
"What is looming on the horizon for the studio is both exciting and daunting," she continued. "We're working on projects that you know about (the TV show and Halo Xbox One) and others that you don't (insert absolutely zero clues here). Our team has blossomed from a few dozen to a few hundred, and it continues to grow at a healthy pace as new people are hired to make sure every team has more than enough resources to do their job, and do it well.
The first Halo game for Xbox One may not be titled Halo 5, though it definitely features Master Chief, who's looking a bit scruffy and down-at-heel after his brush with the Didact. A bunch of Halo Xbox One plot details recently appeared on the Microsoft Store, seemingly by accident.