Microsoft’s answer to Siri coming this year

Microsoft is expected to roll out its SMS-reading ‘personal assistant’ on UK smartphones by the end of the year, according to forecasters.

Named ‘Cortana’, the technology will be in direct competition with the likes of Google Now and Apple’s Siri, which have been on the market for much longer. Cortana has already been rolled out to American users but has been held up in making the switch across the Atlantic, although the reasons for this are yet to be made public.

Now, forecasters have said they expect it to come in this calendar year, although it might not be until Q4. This information comes from a slip by O2, which hasn’t been so tight lipped. It claimed that the Cyan update – which would bring Cortana with it – can be expected to hit Windows Phone 8.1 handsets before the year is out, expertreviews.co.uk notes.

Cortana can handle many of the actions that smartphone users have come to expect, such as reading text messages aloud and writing down replies as the user dictates them. Users can also command Cortana to make appointments, set reminders and take notes.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has built functionality for the Internet of Things into Cortana, eweek.com claims. This means that when users move into a ‘connected home’ they will be able to control lights or appliances simply by telling their phone what they’d like to be done.