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How ya goin’ Sheila?

Nov 17, 2015 | News

Cortana has now been updated to include an Australian version, which means she can now understand our ‘funny’ accents… sort of.

Our Aussie girl isn’t as mature as her US sister but with an error rate of only 10-20% we think she’s doing alright.

“For most of the tasks, we find that is good enough to get their tasks completed,” Microsoft applications and services group engineering director Mike Calcagno said.

Although Aussie Cortana has been being worked on since April of last year Mr Calcagno says that our accent was not “particularly tricky” to accommodate.

The reason she’s taken five months to reach us though is because “you really need thousands of different speakers representing as many subregions of Australia as you can see, from eastern to western Australia.”

“It’s been a little slower but we think the result in Australia will be even more appreciated for being more local and relevant,” he said.

This five month move to implement an Australian Cortana (named after the Halo character) is still way faster than what Apple could manage, only introducing an Australian Siri in 2014, three years after she was created.

This is probably because voice activated technology has been around for a while now, whereas when Apple was launching Siri, it was still a reasonably new thing, CNN reported that both Apple and Google were starting to create voice activated technology as early as 2007.

howyagoingsheila

The Australian version of Cortana will also lack some features that it’s US sister has, such as tracking events and movie bookings, recognising scribbled names and numbers and adding Uber bookings to event reminders.

These features will eventually be implemented though, with Mr Calcagno stating that they’re being tested in America first because it’s “the English-speaking country with the most data”.

And Mt Calcagno’s hot tip when using Australian Cortana? “Speak normally” he says, “The mistake most people make is when they get an error is they’ll speak more slowly, and this makes AI systems worse.”

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