Microsoft has been clear about its desire to make Cortana more accessible and useable. The company is working on ways to overcome some underlying problems with virtual assistants in general. If a user is doing one thing, it is hard to access the assistant and keep doing the original task. A new patent from Microsoft may solve the multitasking problem.
A filing made by the company was published recently. It shows how it would be possible to launch Cortana with a voice command when doing another task. For example, Microsoft shows how a user could open the assistant while in the middle of a phone call.
This is important, because while virtual assistants have improved, they are still limited. IPhone and iPad users need their device to be plugged into to launch Siri by voice, while no assistant can currently manage deep multitasking.
In the filing, the company explains how its solution would work:
“The user can be on a call with a friend talking about a new video game and then use a voice command to launch a web browser application on a mobile device that navigates to a pinned webpage having information about the game's release”.
Of course, this is a tentative step towards multitasking, so there will be limitations. Most notably, the user would have to go to the work of finding websites to pin to a device home screen. Cortana could open these pages, but she couldn't find new content on the web.
So, this is a one feature deal in patent form. At least it shows Microsoft is working on making Cortana a more fluid experience. Also, this new feature would also work in reading mode. This means the user would never have to look at the screen.
“The reading mode can be expected to be advantageous in many applications as it provides users with a way to interact with the mobile device 110 and consume content without having to read it.”