Virtual assistants on our phones have become more and more common, though widespread use is still not as big of a thing as companies have hoped for. There’s something that still feels weird about talking and giving voice commands to your phone, especially in public. I know there are plenty of situations where I could have used a virtual assistant where I instead just googled the information. With that said, virtual assistants are getting smarter and will likely become a staple of our day-to-day lives as they become more and more intelligent. For a long time the big players were Apple’s Siri and Google Now, but Windows Cortana has also recently come onto the scene. With Cortana now available on Android phones, does it surpass the utility of Google Now?
Cortana on Android has a variety of features, but is it worth using over Google’s Google Now? We’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons of the virtual assistant to try to help you make an informed decision.
The first option when you open Cortana is called “My Day”. This section of the application provides information it thinks will be relevant to your current day, and it learns over time what information is most useful for you and adjusts its display accordingly. It includes appointments, weather, news headlines, places to eat near your location, and more.
Cortana makes it pretty easy to set up reminders. Simply open the app and either enter a time to be reminded or have the app remind you when you enter a certain location. The location-based reminders is a really cool feature that I’m excited to try out when I give Cortana another try.
When you enter the meetings section of your calendar, you can give Cortana permission to access your calendar. The app then turns into an agenda-style version of your calendar. Tapping on any appointment will open it in google calendar, and there’s a bunch of other options to support other calendars like Microsoft exchange and more.
Cortana also functions similarly to Siri in that it can answer basic questions and do web searches for you based on voice commands.
Google Now seeks to preempt information you need, displaying what it thinks you need to know before you even have to ask for it. Google Now functions via a series of cards that display relevant data based on what you’re currently doing. It’s less of a voice activated assistant and more of a relevant information “board”
Here’s a list of functions of what Google Now is capable of:
Tell you the weather
Tell you how to get home by car
Tell you how get home on foot
How to get home by bus/train
Remind you about calendar events
Notify you of emailed item dispatch notices, flight times etc
Give you updates on your sports team
Give you stock updates
Offer info based on your web searches
Lets you search the web with your voice/typing
Launch contextual assistance based on what’s on screen (Android 6.0)
Which one’s better?
The two assistants are difficult to compare because they’re decently different. If you’re looking for a voice activated personal assistant that integrates seamlessly with your Windows PC, Cortana might be the way to go. If you’re looking for smart contextual data personalized for your current situation, Google Now might pull ahead.
Personally, I’m more of a fan of Cortana the more I use it. However, that comes with a caveat. Cortana works really well…when it actually works. There are times when Cortana is really hit or miss. As Microsoft continues to update Cortana to be smarter and smarter I think it will pull even further ahead of Google Now.