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Biggest highlights from Microsoft Build 2018

Microsoft Building

The tech world has had a busy month, with Google and Microsoft’s annual developer conferences taking place last week, and Facebook was before that!

We’ve already had a run-down of the biggest announcements from Google and Facebook, so now it’s time to hear from one of the other tech giants – Microsoft and its Build 2018 developer conference…

Cortana and Alexa collaboration

We already knew that Microsoft and Alexa were working on ways to integrate their virtual assistants, Cortana and Alexa, with the two companies announcing the move in August last year. But Microsoft used the event to demonstrate its digital assistant Cortana working with Amazon’s Alexa to conduct tasks. The aim is to bridge the gap between the two assistants, enabling users to book an Uber with Alexa on their Windows 10 laptop, or check their schedule with Cortana on an Amazon Echo, Venture Beat explained.

While the feature might still be a little bit clumsy, with users needing to tell Alexa to open Cortana, or vice-versa, it enables the voice assistants to fill in the gaps in each other’s features. And, considering this is still in beta testing, this is only set to improve over time.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, have both expressed interest in ensuring voice assistants work more closely together, The Next Web notes. Perhaps this is the start of a new beginning, where we will see Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri come together.

Using AI for accessibility

AI brings with it a whole host of opportunities, and Microsoft wants to take full of advantage of this by encouraging developers to use the tech to help provide greater accessibility.

The tech giant pledged support for any developer using its AI tools with the announcement of a $25m, five-year programme using AI to help people with disabilities. As Tech Radar reports, it will include technology investments and grants, and Microsoft will publish its own accessibility apps. These will include real-time text-to-speech transcription, predictive text functionality, and other solutions.

Your Phone

Microsoft unveiled a new app that will enable users to access their phone’s content on the Windows 10 device. Your Phone will bring a mirrored version of their phone and put it on their desktop, so users can access texts, photos, and notifications without needing to pick up their phone.

The Next Web notes that the app will initially allow the viewing of notifications and reading and replying to SMS messages, but it hopes that further down the line it will also integrate notifications from other messaging apps.

The app will also act as a direct data link between the phone and the laptop, meaning users can transfer images, video and other media.

Azure Internet of Things

Azure was a big talking point for Microsoft, with the company’s decision to open up the Azure Internet of Things (IoT) runtime to developers. This will provide developers with the ability to modify, debug and better control edge applications, leading to a huge potential for future applications.

It also updated its Bot Framework, which will work in combination with updated Cognitive Services, to provide more conversational bots that are able to deliver deeper and more realistic conversations, Tech Radar noted.

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