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Microsoft is introducing Cortana to Skype users. The artificial intelligence will come to Skype in the form of the personal assistant Cortana. The assistant will help users make plans for going out or look up information.

Skype will be more enjoyable with Cortana

The addition of the personal assistant to Skype was announced for the first time over a year ago and it is still unknown what is taking Microsoft so long. It is said that the implementation is similar to the one used by Facebook for its assistant in Messenger and Google with Allo.

When a Skype user is chatting, Cortana appears to bellow the most recent messages and tries to assist you by suggesting a restaurant or creating reminders. Users can also chat with Cortana.

Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant

Intelligent personal assistants are used by all big companies. Google has Allo, iPhone has Siri, Amazon has Alexa and there are plenty more out there. Cortana is created by Microsoft for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS, Android, Xbox One, Amazo Aexa and Windows Mixed Reality.

So far Cortana is available in only a handful of languages suh as English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish Japanese and Chinese.

The personal assistant can recognize natural voice without keyboard input sets reminders and answers questions (it uses the Bing search engine). It was natural that Microsoft would use its own search engine, Bing, to help Cortana.

Also, Cortana can simulate rolling a dice or flipping a coin and it has music recognition service (Bing Audio). The service can only recognize recorded songs; it is not available for humming or live songs. The assistant has the Concert Watch feature which monitors Bing search engines to determine user’s favorite bands or musicians. Another service included is the Foursquare that provides local attractions and restaurants.

Source: This article was published tech.blorge.com By Andrew Matviles

Categorized in News & Politics

This article is by Aaron Agius, cofounder and managing director of Louder.Online, a digital marketing agency.

As far back as 2014, we knew, thanks to data gathered by Google and Northstar Research, that more than 50% of teens and 41% of adults surveyed used voice search—the kind used by Google, Alexa, Siri and Cortana—on a daily basis.

There’s nothing to suggest that these adoption rates have slowed down, especially in light of the successful January 2016 launch of Amazon’s voice-only platform Alexa, which grew seven-fold in its first six months.

This rapid adoption has led some to say that voice search will be the end of organic SEO as we know it. I’m not so certain. While it’s certainly an evolution of organic search, it reminds me too much of another “sky is falling” scenario to suggest that CMOs and other high-level marketing execs should be worried.

The Historical Precedent Of Google’s Knowledge Graph

Back in 2012, Google launched Knowledge Graph, which many industry leaders feared for similar reasons. And certainly, businesses that profited by siphoning Google traffic to answer simple questions were threatened by the change.

That said, it’s important to look at the types of queries affected by the Knowledge Graph launch. The searches affected weren’t queries indicative of a desire for deep knowledge; they were quick answers to quick questions (for example, “How tall is George Clooney?” or “What is the capital of France?”).

I’d argue that, at least until we have a fully semantic web, voice search will have a similar impact. Siri can’t walk you through fixing your kitchen plumbing; Cortana can’t give you a detailed tutorial on building a WordPress website. You may use voice search services to locate these resources, but you’ll still be returned search results to browse further—just as you were following the launch of Knowledge Graph.

Rand Fishkin of Moz describes the difference between queries the engines can answer quickly and searches requiring more in-depth content as the “safety dance vs. danger zone.”

Recipes, to his mind, are safe—no voice search technology can currently sum up the ingredients of a recipe, steps, images, comments and ratings. Cooking conversions, he claims, are in the danger zone, simply because it’s more efficient for voice search to give the answer than it is to redirect searchers to another resource.

The Future Of Voice Search

My estimate of the impact of voice search in the near-term is minimal, but that doesn’t mean its impact won’t be felt further down the line. Here’s how your teams should begin to prepare:

1. Ecommerce sellers will be hit harder.

By some estimates, we aren’t far from a future where voice search programs will be able to take action, like placing orders, for us.

Aleh Barysevich, writing for Search Engine Journal, shares research indicating Google is already working on conversational shopping and envisions the impact on queries like “Show me blue jeans / Show me size 12 / Order me the pair from American Eagle.”

This makes proactive optimization critical for ecommerce enterprises who want to be included in these results.

2. Schema context matters.

To ensure your company’s web pages are presented to users in current and future voice search iterations, schema markup will become increasingly important in helping the engines understand your site and how it should be ranked.

The tutorial here can get your developers started.

3. Quality content will continue to dominate organic search.

Think long and hard about the value the content your team offers. Are you sharing quick answers to simple problems? If so, it’s time to shift your company's focus to higher-quality content that will remain relevant as voice search grows in popularity.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2017/03/12/how-alexa-siri-and-cortana-could-shape-the-future-of-organic-search/#778934a857d5

Categorized in Search Engine

Siri, Cortana and Alexa are virtual assistants with female personas — though Siri can be a man, too. Until today, Google voice search didn’t have an identity or persona, though it has a female voice.

That is changing with theofficial rollout of Google Home. For the launch of Home, Google took its voice search capabilities and added a persona. So instead of calling Google’s spoken results Google Now, Ok Google or Google voice search, it/she will now be the “Google Assistant,” which is not quite a human-sounding name, but better and more descriptive than Google Now.

Like Amazon, Google will have devices (e.g., Home, Pixel phones) and products (e.g., Allo) that feature the Assistant the way Amazon has the Echo and Echo Dot, powered by Alexa. All this waspreviewed at Google I/Othis summer. You can interact with the Assistant in more limited form today in Google’s new messaging app, Allo.

This summer, it appeared that Google wasn’t going to use the name “Assistant” for its Google Home voice persona or as a consumer-facing product name. However, it appears the company changed its mind over the past several months. (The assistant will launch as female, but over time, it will offer more voices and potentially, personas.)

According to Ryan Germick, who led the Google Doodles team and helped develop the Assistant’s personality, Google Assistant should be thought of as a kind of friendly companion, “Always there but never in the way; her primary job is to be helpful.”

Like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, Google Assistant will tell jokes and have conversational features to “humanize” and make Google “more approachable.” One of the advantages that Google has with the Assistant over its rivals is its search index and knowledge graph. However, Germick said that there may be instances where Google Home will not provide a result, other than reading back a list of search results.

Germick explained that in creating the Assistant’s personality, Google utilized “storytellers” from Pixar and The Onion, among others, to craft scripted answers to a broad range of questions. Presumably, this is where the humor will show up. However, over time, there may also be “AI jokes” (We’ll see).

“Fun in, fun out,” Germick added. That means users will need to prompt the Assistant for jokes or snark, which won’t happen unsolicited. But that’s apparently happening quite a bit in Allo (e.g., “What is the meaning of life?”).

Germick called the Google Assistant a “beautiful marriage of technology and scripting.” The proof will be in the user experience — though what we saw demoed today was impressive to me — and undoubtedly, we’ll see numerous side-by-side comparisons of the Google Assistant with its competitors when Home formally comes out November 4. (Apple isalso rumoredto be working on a standalone Siri-powered smart home device.)

For now, we have the video released at I/O, showcasing the Google Home user experience.

Source : searchengineland

Categorized in Search Engine

Almost overnight, voice search has become a significant part of the marketing landscape. Many businesses, however, don't have a plan to take advantage of what it has to offer.

The development of smartphone technology has turned Siri and Cortana into household names. These voice-activated personal assistants are key parts of the interfaces for Android and iPhone devices, and every day, millions of people use them to find services they need.

In fact, 71 percent of 18 to 29-year-old Americans use smartphone personal assistants, and about 40 percent of all voice search users have taken it up in the past six months. The technology is exploding, but are online businesses ready for it?

Voice Queries Should Be a Key SEO Concern

One of the most important aspects of voice search is the way people use it. Finding services using Siri is not like typing search queries into Google. Instead, smartphone users tend to ask questions for their personal assistants to answer. They don't type in "frozen yogurt Baltimore," they ask Siri where they can find some frozen yogurt in Baltimore. It's a big difference.

The past year has seen a sharp rise in the number of search engine queries based on words like "who," "what," "when," and "how." This is something that businesses need to respond to. Instead of focusing on short keyword searches, voice search makes it vital to consider longer questions. Marketers need to find out how phone users are phrasing their queries and base their SEO campaigns around these questions.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. It's not possible to tell which Google queries are coming from voice search, but you can get a good idea of the way people use questions by analyzing your:

  • Customer service queries
  • Social media feeds

Voice Search Optimized Sites Will Be Rewarded by Google

One thing is certain: if voice search continues to rise in popularity, Google will make sure that its algorithms reward sites that answer customer questions as efficiently as possible. Google's own speech recognition error rate has plummeted in recent times, from over 25 percent in 2014 to just 8 percent in 2016, and the firm is investing billions of dollars in perfecting speech-based searching.

But how can online businesses respond proactively to this development?

  • On beyond keyword-based marketing. It seems likely that Google's algorithms will reward searches that align with what customers want, and that raw keyword-based marketing techniques will become less important. Although keywords remain (and are likely to remain) a major part of how the search engines work, how satisfactorily your content addresses user queries will ultimately determine your site’s favorability.
  • Connect with customers on an emotional level. Instead of gaming keywords, successful firms will know how to connect with customers on an emotional level. That's what Google is aiming for. Context-specific search results that synchronize with what users want and feel.

Content that meets these criteria should work well.

A Huge Opportunity for Local Businesses

Voice searching is not something for small businesses to fear. In fact, if local companies use the technology wisely, they can capitalize on a wave of localized searches and capture huge numbers of new customers. When people make voice queries on their phones, they tend to be local. They ask things like "where is the nearest burger restaurant?" or "how can I get to the park?" If your company can be the most common answer to questions like this, voice search holds huge potential.

Considering all this information, what exactly can you do to capitalize on this growing trend as a local business?

  • Listings. Concentrate your marketing resources on perfecting your listings on Google Maps and sites like Yelp. Ensure that all of the information is accurate and up-to-date, and manage your reviews to showcase your services.
  • Site content. The content of your site also needs to be refined to stress your location. Think about the language that local people use to find businesses. Do they refer to streets or neighborhoods in a certain way? If so, include it in your text.
  • Language. If you run a business catering to tourists, be sure to include some foreign language content as well. Everyone is using voice search these days, and it's not all about English language speakers.
    Long-tail keywords. Long tails are harder to rank compared to head keywords but convert well. And because customers in the actual buying stage ask very specific questions, a clear understanding of your website and product/service should help you figure out which long-tail keywords to target.

Mobile Optimization Is Vital

With the rise of smartphone voice search, mobile optimization has become a no-brainer. It's simply got to be done, so if you haven't already redesigned your site to be mobile-friendly, start doing so right away.

Some tips to get you started with mobile optimization:

  • Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. This is a simple site Google created to analyze the mobile-friendliness of your website’s design. Google has made it clear that mobile-optimized websites will be privileged in search results in the future, and they have provided tools to help businesses adapt, so be sure to use them.
  • Less is more. Do away with all the fancy Flash and pop-ups. Mobile users may not have the Flash plugin available on their devices, and pop-ups can be difficult to work with on small screens.
  • Optimize your images. Image files that are too big will take a while to load. Image compression tools such as TinyPNG and TinyJPG can help you save bandwidth and accelerate your site’s loading speed.

Adapting to voice search is something that every business will eventually have to do. Right now, small and mid-sized companies can give themselves an early-adopter advantage by designing their content around voice queries, perfecting their local listings, and ensuring their sites are mobile-optimized.

Source : http://www.business.com/

Are you getting mixed search results? Here we'll tell you how to use Cortana to narrow down your searches to get exactly what you're looking for on Windows 10.

When you talk about Cortana and search on Windows 10 is like saying the same thing. Sure, Cortana excels on an array of tasks, such as creating reminders, syncing notifications between your phone and PC, and even when using natural language, but the assistant is about a lot more.

Microsoft has designed Cortana as part of the next generation of search, which is about getting personal results and giving you things based on knowing your patterns without you having to ask.

On Windows 10, Cortana integrates with the operating system's local search feature to help you find local files and settings, and also with Bing to offer relevant search results from the web to answer any questions.

Here we'll explain and walk you through the steps to search for files, settings, and get relevant web search results using Cortana on Windows 10.

How to use Cortana to search on Windows 10

On Windows 10, there are two ways to search using Cortana: you can use the search box in the taskbar to enter your search query to find anything you need. Or you can start Cortana in listening mode using the "Hey Cortana" feature or the Windows key + Shift + C keyboard shortcut to ask the assistant to find anything you want.

 

You can use Cortana to find virtually anything on your computer or on the web. Typically, you'll use the assistant to find files stored locally on your computer or OneDrive, settings, and web results to answer more complex searches.

How to search files and settings using Cortana

While Microsoft has designed Cortana to make search super easy on Windows 10, you'll notice that you won't just get one answer. Instead, you will get a lot of results from different categories, because Cortana doesn't quite understand the context of your question unless you're specific.

For example, when you do a search, you will get results from any source that Cortana can search, including local files and settings, and web results using Bing.

If you want to get more specific results from a query, you have to do your search with commands that Cortana can understand, which are similar to those queries you use every day on your favorite search engine.

To narrow down your Cortana search to only files and settings and apps, you can use the following examples in the search box:

  • Apps: Mail
  • Documents: Business Presentation 2016
  • Folders: Personal Docs
  • Music: Bon Jovi
  • Photos: Veronica's Party
  • Settings: Windows Update
  • Videos: Vacation

In the examples above, you can see that you can quickly type a category and a colon to specify the search type followed by your search query, which will help Cortana understand exactly the type of search you want to perform.

As you type a query in the search box you'll get a number of shortcuts buttons to refine your search. But if you prefer typing to mousing and clicking, these quick commands can make your searches even faster.

If you prefer using the shortcut buttons, you can also click the More button on the top-right to see the complete list of categories you can search using Cortana.

Additionally, you can type a query in the search box, and click the title of the category to see more results.

If you're an Office 365 subscriber, you can even connect your account with Cortana to search email, calendar, people, and Office 365 documents.

Local search on Windows 10 Mobile works different

While the concept of search using Cortana also works on Windows 10 Mobilethere some limitations. For example, on the mobile version of Windows 10, you can't search for specific files and settings within the Cortana app.

If you're looking for an specific file, you either need to open File Explorer or OneDrive and use the search functionality within that app, and you need to open the Settings app to find any settings.

How to search the web using Cortana

Searching the web using Cortana is not much different than doing a search using your web browser using Bing or Google. However, there are a few things you need to know to get the best web search results.

 

To search the web using Cortana there is only one command you need to know: web: followed by the search term. The example below shows how you should type a web search query in Cortana:

  • Web: How to use Cortana on Windows 10

While the Web command defines the context of your search, you'll come across two types of results: Cortana instant answers within the app, which technically you don't have to specify, because it's already programmed to respond to particular questions. This is the logic that makes Cortana feel more intelligent.

Here are some examples of specific things Cortana can answer within the app:

  • NYC Weather
  • Microsoft Stock
  • What movies are playing near me?
  • What's the time in the UK?
  • How tall is Jessica Biel?

Here a few other examples searches you can do with the digital assistant:

  • News: This command brings up the latest trending news within the app.
  • Define: When you need a definition of a particular word, you can use the keyword define followed by the word. For example, define automobile. This command will trigger a search on Bing, and the search engine will use the Oxford Dictionary to provide the definition.
  • 42+8/23: Use math standard operators +, -, *, /, %, and ^ in the search box to calculate anything you want, and press Enter to bring up the calculator.
  • Translate: When you need to translate text to another language type translate and press Enter to open Cortana in translation mode.

Web search (left), recognized web search (middle), math search (right)

 

When you type a search that Cortana isn't programmed to answer, you'll only see related search terms. In which case, you'll need to press Enter to open Microsoft Edge and hope the Bing search result page shows up a link with the answer you're seeking.

Remember that everything you do with Cortana (unless is a local search for files and settings) is an online search, and Bing is responsible for it.

Don't you believe me? Try to disconnect your computer from the internet and see if Cortana can answer something as simple as 2+2

How to search with voice command using Cortana

Cortana has been designed to work with the keyboard and mouse, as well as with voice commands using natural language.

If you're using the hands-free feature, then simply say "Hey Cortana" followed by the search term. For example:

  • "Hey Cortana: How's the weather."

If "Hey Cortana" is not enabled on your device, then use the Windows key + Shift + C keyboard shortcut and say your search term. For example:

  • "How tall is Mount Everest?"

Remember you're not limited to say keywords in your search, just use natural language. For Cortana, "Can you tell me what is an automobile?" and "define automobile" are the same thing. However, the search experience may be different using voice commands and typing the query in the search box.

Source : http://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-cortana-search-windows-10 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 

 

Cortana, Windows 10’s built-in virtual assistant, is both really cool and really creepy

 

When I first saw Mr. Spock talking to the Enterprise’s computer, I thought it was so cool. I still do. But the more I look at Cortana, Windows 10’s inherent virtual assistant, the more creeped out I get.

Let’s start with Cortana’s fundamental lust for your data. When it’s working as your virtual assistant it’s collecting your every keystroke and spoken syllable. It does this so it can be more helpful to you. If you don’t like that, well, you’ve got more problems than just Cortana. Google Now and Apple Siri do the same things. And it’s not just virtual assistants; every cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) does this to one degree or another — Google Docs, Office 365, whatever.

But Cortana doesn’t stop there. With the recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update, hereafter Windows 10 SP1, you can’t shut Cortana off.

Maybe you don’t mind Microsoft listening to your every word so it can catch when you say, “Hey, Cortana.” I do. Yes, I want the coolness factor of being able to talk to my computer. But I want the reassurance that it’s not listening when I don’t need it to be. I want a simple on/off switch. Windows 10 SP1 doesn’t have one. This is interesting, though: Windows 10 Education does. Microsoft apparently is willing to respect the privacy of students. The rest of us? Not so much.

What you can do in Windows 10 SP1 is cripple Cortana when you install the operating system. But Cortana then becomes no more than a front end to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. You lose the ability to talk to your computer. You’ll no longer be able to tell Windows 10 to get you an Uber or tell you how the Chicago Cubs did today.

If you’re anti-Cortana, don’t install Windows 10 SP1 with “Express settings.” Instead, follow the steps described by Jared Newman in PC World. You will make Windows 10 less useful but a lot more private. If you’re not comfortable with Cortana collecting your contacts, location, calendar data, and text and email content and communication history, you’ll want to do this. Don’t, though, if you want the full Cortana experience and you don’t mind Microsoft collecting everything except your car keys.

And maybe you don’t. Many of us are reconciled to the mantra of the internet economy: “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product.” Companies such as Facebook and Google give all their free social and search goodies in return for our web history, which they then transform into cash with targeted

advertising. And as for Microsoft, it makes a point of saying Cortana doesn’t do that. Why do I not feel reassured?

Now that I think of it, though, you can’t (easily) get Windows 10 for free anymore. So you get to pay Microsoft with both cash ($199.99 for Windows 10 Pro) and your data. Oh boy!

Microsoft calls this a feature that gives you the ability to ask your PC simple questions without logging in. But I call anything that lets me input data into a PC without being logged into it a bug. It’s a security hole begging to be exploited. Windows, which God knows has had more than enough security problems, now has a new attack surface.

Fortunately, you can fix this one easily. Just open Cortana’s Settings and turn off the “Use Cortana even when my device is locked.”

By the way, Microsoft always claims that Windows is new and improved and more secure than ever. And yet, if you look at any significant Windows patch report, you will notice that every major bug affects every supported version of Windows. Shouldn’t the new and improved Windows 10 be immune from the bugs that affect Windows 7, 8 and 8.1? It’s funny how they seem to slug every version of Windows.I like Microsoft a lot more than I used to, but I’m not ready to trust it with everything and the virtual kitchen sink. So I followed Newman’sadvice when installing the OS. I’m afraid I will never be as cool as Spock.

I should note that, if your distrust of Microsoft exceeds mine, you can rip into your operating system’s guts and totally disable Cortana. You need to beware, though, because it involves going in deep, to places where it’s really way too easy to foul up Windows. In killing Cortana, you could end up seeing a lot more Windows crashes.

In Windows 10 Pro, you type gpedit.msc into the Start menu. Head down to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search. Once there, double-click on Allow Cortana to toggle it to Disable Cortana. Log off and back on, and you’re done.

In Windows 10 Home, open the registry with regedit and head to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search

Next, right-click the Windows Search folder and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name this new DWORD AllowCortana and set it at 0. Now log off and reboot your computer.

Let me reiterate: If any of that sounds mysterious, don’t do it.

And, you know, why should you have to? Why can’t Microsoft just make it easy to turn off Cortana? I’d appreciate it.

Source : http://www.computerworld.com/article/3106863/microsoft-windows/cortana-the-spy-in-windows-10.html

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

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