Nissan and BMW are bringing Microsoft Cortana to your car
Alongside Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Cortana is one of the most powerful digital assistants around right now. Although she, or it, started off as a character in the original Halo game, Cortana can now be found in everything from games consoles to Windows Phones – and soon that list will include cars. At this year’s CES, both Nissan and BMW demonstrated Cortana working in a car, and it’s a trend that will only continue.
BMW showed off its vision of Cortana integration yesterday, and it seems to function the same way it does on other devices. Instead of acting as a dedicated app, it looks as though Cortana will sit over BMW’s own Connected service, a suite of apps designed to deliver everything from weather to traffic updates.
BMW says Cortana will be able to make reservations, perform internet searches and generally act as a personal secretary. However, it’s not clear whether users will be able to use the assistant for in-car systems – such as adjusting the air conditioning or turning on the heated seats.
Nissan showed its version of Cortana at a keynote yesterday, and it appears to be much more advanced. As with the BMW system, the Nissan’s version of Cortana can control a car’s range of connected apps, but it also has the ability to change the car’s driver settings – particularly useful if you’re sharing a vehicle.
Both companies only showed demos at this year’s CES, but it’s very likely Cortana will appear on both Nissans and BMWs soon. Nissan has already signed a multilayer contract with Microsoft to use the latter’s Connected Vehicle Platform. From logging data and uploading it to the cloud, to simply providing traffic updates, it could end up being one of the best systems around.
In contrast, it’s clear that BMW is still assessing its options. Only last year, BMW announced it was testing IBM’s Watson AI in several of its cars. At some point, just like Nissan and Ford with Alexa, BMW will need to choose which digital assistant to use in its production cars.