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Cortana vs. Siri vs. Google Now: An early look at how Cortana stacks up (hands-on)
Making the switch to Chrome was the best possible thing I could have done to improve my experience surfing the web. Google has done away with many of the traditional context menus, settings options, and bookmarks layout. We put an early version to the test. New devices like the Nokia Lumia , , and will ship with 8. Cortana will toss back a few witty remarks when you ask questions about the story of Halo, if she loves you, what she's wearing a phone! Siri doesn't have this capability yet; Apple's assistant just listens and does nothing. When asked, "What is the address for the Exploratorium?

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Siri, for example, didn't understand when I asked "What time is Captain America playing tonight? When I worded the phrase slightly -- "What are showtimes for Captain America tonight?

A similar oopsie occurred with Cortana, which displayed the film schedule when I searched for Captain America, but then presented a list of Bing results when I asked about "The Lego Movie.

Cortana's claim of flight status worked well when I asked it, "What's the status of United ? Voice-activated directions worked flawlessly for all three assistants "Navigate me to Palo Alto. Looking up addresses that you don't necessarily want directions for is also something you can do. When asked, "What is the address for the Exploratorium? On my first attempt, which was outdoors, only Siri returned a specific result.

The other two proffered up a list of links. There was one other on-demand command that only tripped up Google Now, and that was asking "How long will it take me to get home?

That said, Google Now cards proactively predict your commute, so that information is available. Siri, Google Now, and Cortana all set simple reminders, like "Remind me to make a dentist appointment on Tuesday," but Cortana wants to nail down the time. Where Siri will set the reminder without a time commitment, Cortana -- and Google Now -- will prompt you to lock down your schedule.

One unique, clever Cortana trick links reminders to contacts. For instance, "The next time Dan and I talk, remind me to ask about the game. The next time either of you texts or calls, a screen dominated by Cortana's trademark red circle pops up with the reminder, which you can complete or postpone for next time.

Like Siri, Cortana lets you set relationships for people and places as well, which lets you refer to people as "Mom" or "Dad," "my brother," or simply "Amy," rather than speak the person's first and last name to place a call or text, for example.

In Cortana, you set these relationships manually through the Inner Circle area that's part of the settings menu that Microsoft calls Cortana's Notebook. With Siri and Google Now, however, you can just speak the relationship simply, like "Aidan is my brother-in-law," and then it is so.

Microsoft should mimic this more convenient approach. Windows Phone has had Shazam-style music identification rolled into the Bing search app for some time, so its placement in Cortana is inevitable.

When music is playing, launch Cortana, then tap the music note to get it to listen. It works about the same in Google Search app. Siri doesn't have this capability yet; Apple's assistant just listens and does nothing.

I do think that Google is a little smarter about the info it returns, making it clear in the results that you can buy the tune from the Google Play Store.

Microsoft's Cortana will also hook into the phone's music store, but only after you tap the entry. Neither provides the deep context around the artist, album, or lyrics the way that dedicated apps like SoundHound do. In theory, you should be able to tell Cortana "Stop [the name of the band or song]", but Cortana interpreted that command as a new Web search.

So what happens when you ask to see a song you don't own? Siri tells you it isn't in your library, but Google Now and Cortana at least provide links so you can play it yourself online. Google's search result lists the YouTube video first; Cortana serves up Last.

There are a few instances when you and Cortana can take turns to whittle down a search. Right now it works when you search for a business or look up the weather. For example, "Show me the weather," followed by "What's it like on Thursday? Google's voice action and Siri do this as well. What is unique to Cortana being able to follow up on questions related to looking up businesses. Cortana alone remains contextually aware around this search, which lets you continue to request anything from distance show me the ones within five miles , star ratings, even commands to call a business on the list or find out more about it.

For example, you can say: Microsoft bills Cortana as a cheeky monkey, sassier even than Siri. I'm not so sure of that. It really depends on what you ask. We had a lot of fun passing Cortana around the office to see what "she" would say. Cortana will toss back a few witty remarks when you ask questions about the story of Halo, if she loves you, what she's wearing a phone! She also has a ready retort for questions about Siri and for questions about when she was born -- but not about where.

Cortana will sing you song actually, it's only a few lines long and it's kind of creepy and tell you a joke it did make me chuckle. Cortana will respond to your gratitude "You're awesome.

So far, so good. However, when Cortana is finished amusing you, show's over. Your next comment will launch a new search. Siri, however, will play ball for awhile longer, allowing you to stretch out some semblance of a back-and-forth conversation.

Like Cortana, Siri is just pulling from a database of ready-made responses, but the exchange hangs together. Here's what happened when I riffed the script with Cortana:. Google is the most staid of the three, by a long shot, and that's simply because Google hasn't chosen to anthropomorphize its search app. Tell Google Now it's awesome and it just creates a new Web search.

In addition to catching up to Siri and Google Now, Microsoft also wants to carve out its own style. Most of this takes place in the voice app's settings menu, called Cortana's Notebook. Here you set your interests, look at reminders, name places you visit most often, and reference music searches. Quiet Hours is where you can set a no-call and no-texting zone, like when you're in a meeting or catching up on some Z's. To designate an exception to the Quiet Hours rule, nip into the Inner Circle setting.

This is also where you establish relationships, e. Cortana also gives you somewhat of a newsfeed. Even when Cortana is idle, you can swipe down to see suggestions for locations, headlines, the weather, and other items that Cortana thinks you might like -- this is based on your searches and also on interests you've set up. Google will also preemptively give you location cards, but iOS's Siri keeps it simple with just its electronic ears.

All told, Cortana kept pace with the more established voice assistants, both in terms of its abilities and in executing tasks correctly. They have given users a genuinely fresh experience when surfing the web. You can rest assured when using Chrome that doing what you want with it is quick because you do not have to jump through hoops to get to where you want to go.

The clean interface makes that possible. However, Chrome takes those three steps and combines them into one with the use of its address bar. Just type in what you want to look for. This cuts the time in half it typically takes looking for things online. If you right-click on any task, you will be given options as to what other statistics you can display to see what resources it is using while open.

The most underused but most amazing feature of Google Chrome often gets ignored by its users. Do you know what it is? It is Incognito Mode, and if you have not used it, yet, you are missing out.

Incognito Mode allows you to surf the web without worrying about browsing history, download history or cookies. These are all deleted when you close the browser. Any changes you make to settings or bookmarks are saved for you. You just do not have to worry about others seeing where you are surfing, what you are downloading and whether or not your cookies are being stored. This will open a new window for you in Incognito Mode.

I was a diehard Firefox fan for years. I recently made the switch to Chrome after Mozilla failed to address the memory hog that its browser had become. It was a hard decision to make, but after several recommendations and pushes from people I trust, I made the switch and had not looked back.

Making the switch to Chrome was the best possible thing I could have done to improve my experience surfing the web.

Chrome has a multitude of extensions and apps to make using it even easier along with features that truly make it seamless.

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