December 13, 2016 11:41 am

Cortana to open up to new devices and developers with Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana Devices SDK

We believe that everyone deserves a personal assistant. One to help you cope as you battle to stay on top of everything, from work to your home life. Calendars, communications and commitments. An assistant that is available everywhere you need it, working in concert with the experts you rely on to get things done.

We’re at the beginning of a technological revolution in artificial intelligence. The personal digital assistant is the interface where all the powers of that intelligence can become an extension of each one of us. Delivering on this promise will take a community that is equally invested in the outcome and able to share in the benefits.

Today we are inviting you to join us in this vision for Cortana with the announcement of the Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana Devices SDK.

The Cortana Skills Kit is designed to help developers reach the growing audience of 145 million Cortana users, helping users get things done while driving discovery and engagement across platforms: Windows, Android, iOS, Xbox and new Cortana-powered devices.

The Cortana Devices SDK will allow OEMs and ODMs to create a new generation of smart, personal devices – on no screen or the big screen, in homes and on wheels.

Developers and device manufacturers can sign up today to receive updates as we move out of private preview.

Cortana Skills Kit Preview

The Cortana Skills Kit will allow developers to leverage bots created with the Microsoft Bot Framework and publish them to Cortana as a new skill, to integrate their web services as skills and to repurpose code from their existing Alexa skills to create Cortana skills. It will connect users to skills when users ask, and proactively present skills to users in the appropriate context. And it will help developers personalize their experiences by leveraging Cortana’s understanding of users’ preferences and context, based on user permissions.

In today’s San Francisco event, we showed how early development partners are working with the private preview of the Cortana Skills Kit ahead of broader availability in February 2017.

  • Knowmail is applying AI to the problem of email overload and used the Bot Framework to build a bot which they’ve published to Cortana. Their intelligent solution works in Outlook and Office 365, learning your email habits in order to prioritize which emails to focus on while on-the-go in the time you have available.
  • We showed how Capital One, the first financial services company to sign on to the platform, leveraged existing investments in voice technology to enable customers to efficiently manage their money through a hands-free, natural language conversation with Cortana.
  • Expedia has published a bot to Skype using the Microsoft Bot Framework, and they demonstrated how the bot, as a new Cortana skill, will help users book hotels.
  • We demonstrated TalkLocal’s Cortana skill, which allows people to find local services using natural language. For example, “Hey Cortana, there’s a leak in my ceiling and it’s an emergency” gets Talk Local looking for a plumber.

Developers can sign up today to stay up to date with news about the Cortana Skills Kit.

Cortana Devices SDK for device manufacturers

We believe that your personal assistant needs to help across your day wherever you are: home, at work and everywhere in between. We refer to this as Cortana being “unbound” – tied to you, not to any one platform or device. That’s why Cortana is available on Windows 10, on Android and iOS, on Xbox and across mobile platforms.

We shared last week that Cortana will be included in the IoT Core edition of the Windows 10 Creators Update, which powers IoT devices.

The next step in this journey is the Cortana Devices SDK, which makes Cortana available to all OEMs and ODMs to build smarter devices on all platforms.

It will carry Cortana’s promise in personal productivity everywhere and deliver real-time, two-way audio communications with Skype, Email, calendar and list integration – all helping Cortana make life easier, everywhere. And, of course, it will carry Cortana expert skills across devices.

We are working with partners across a range of industries and hardware categories, including some exciting work with connected cars. The devices SDK is designed for diversity, supporting cross platforms including Windows IoT, Linux, Android and more through open-source protocols and libraries.

One early device partner, Harman Kardon, a leader in premium audio, will have more news to share next year about their plans, but today provided a sneak peek at their new device coming in 2017.

The Cortana Devices SDK is currently in private preview and will be available more broadly in 2017. If you are an OEM or ODM interested in including Cortana in your device, please contact us using this form to receive updates on the latest news about the Cortana Devices SDK and to be considered for access to the early preview.

Updated December 13, 2016 1:00 pm

Join the conversation

  1. So now in addition to my Xbox, my Surface and my laptop all responding at once to my “Hey, Cortana”, my harmond speaker will too. Microsoft, please let me give my device a name, “Hey Cortana on Xbox” or have the hub know how and what to deliver commands to. Thx.

    • By default, Cortana on Xbox is always listening. However, on the other devices, they are not configured to always listen, but you can do so. Otherwise, you have to activate Cortana at the push of a button to talk,, which means only Cortana on the Xbox will respond unless you push the button for Cortana on another device at the same time. I envision other tools/ways to address this.