Microsoft has integrated its Cortana intelligent assistant into the Skype messaging platform. The aim is to improve user experiences and provide quick responses to specific needs.
The roll-out sees the arrival of a new tab in Skype where users can chat directly to Cortana, which fulfils its usual role of intelligent virtual assistant. In other words, Cortana can provide all kinds of practical and in-context information, such as weather forecasts, travel information and directions, movie times, nearby restaurants, etc.
Here, Cortana is presented as a new contact for Skype users to interact with directly. Plus, Cortana can also intervene in any conversation. The assistant can, for example, add upcoming meetings or events to the smartphone calendar and even set alerts. The aim is for users to have the most natural possible relationship with Cortana, and to chat to the assistant like any other friend or member of the family.
Microsoft is following a wider trend by bringing Cortana to Skype, and is, in fact, a little late to the game. Cortana in Skype works in exactly the same way as Google Assistant in Allo or M in Facebook Messenger, for example.
Cortana will initially roll out only to the Skype mobile app (for Android and iOS), only in the USA and only for text-based messaging -- not for voice or video calls. The news comes as Microsoft is poised to release (again, in the USA) its first smart speaker, called Invoke, in partnership with Harman Kardon. This takes the form of a mini speaker, quite similar to the Amazon Echo, and comes loaded with Cortana technology as well as Skype for making calls.