Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday it has plans to integrate its Cortana voice assistant in "connected cars." A company executive at the TechDays Taiwan 2015 conference indicated the firm has developed a prototype car that links the windshield with a navigation system, with Cortana providing location information and even restaurant reservations.
"We have not launched similar products due to the high cost, but we hope to have further discussions with Taiwanese partners to jointly explore future possibilities," said Samuel Shen, chief operating officer at the Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group, according to the Taipei Times.
Cortana in the car would provide drivers with an easy way to complete tasks without taking their eyes off the road. Currently, Cortana has the ability to set reminders, make restaurant recommendations, find out weather conditions and display sports results. Bringing these tasks to the road through a hands-free interface would be a welcome addition.
At this point, however, Microsoft will be playing catchup with both Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Their solutions require you to bring along smartphones, but Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto each offers dashboard integration, a series of basic features and controls, and voice assistance.
It is unclear whether Microsoft's solution will require a smartphone, too, but Cortana integration may give the company an edge over its competitors. Using the same personal assistant as on other Windows-run devices likely will mean things Cortana learns about a user on one system will transfer onto other systems, making Microsoft's offering potentially more attractive than those of its rivals.