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Microsoft brings Cortana to Skype

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AI assistant Cortana is now available on Skype, Microsoft announced today. Cortana on Skype can chat either one-on-one, like you would with any friend, or be summoned into conversations or group chats to handle tasks like scheduling events, finding nearby restaurants, or IMDB movie reviews. Cortana for Skype will begin to roll out today for iOS and Android users in the United States, according to a blog post.

Cortana will now appear as a contact in every Skype user’s contact list. When chatting one-on-one, Cortana can answer questions the same way she can elsewhere: Just ask for directions or what your schedule looks like tomorrow and Cortana will deliver answers via visual cards.

In addition to doing things like making restaurant reservations, Cortana on Skype can serve up suggested replies like “I’m doing ok” when you ask “How are you?” or “Create reminder” when you’re making plans with friends. Reminders will then be sent to other devices that have activated the AI assistant.

Cortana on Skype does not yet work in voice or video calls. Also yet to come are Skype video bots, which launched in preview earlier this year.

At launch, Cortana on Skype has many features similar to the Facebook Messenger intelligent assistant M and the way Google Assistant functions in the lesser known Allo chat app. In each instance, the AI assistant listens to words used in your conversation in order to anticipate the needs of a user or group of users.

The Skype announcement comes ahead of the widely expected release of the Harman Kardon Invoke, a smart speaker with Cortana inside, and follows a Skype redesign that took place in June for iOS and Android devices. The redesign gave Skype the kind of stories feature now common on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as access to third-party bots.

With Cortana in Windows 10, 500 million devices have access to Cortana. About 140 million users speak with Cortana at least once a month, according to Microsoft VP Jordi Ribas.

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