Thursday, 5 May 2016

Flight Tracking

One of the promises of Windows 10 is to become more personal. The tool that is most obvious in this vision is Cortana- your digital personal assistant.

One feature of Cortana is tracking aircraft flights and keeping you informed. Your flight booking arrives by email and Cortana keeps you informed.

However Cortana is still a work in progress. So much so that it has never successfully tracked any flight I have ever taken. That’s right - 100% failure.

Meanwhile since I have side loaded Cortana on an Android device I can do a comparison with Google Now. By complete contrast Google Now seems to know al my travel plans, buses, work location, traffic conditions, metro delays and flights.

This is much more than technology though. Google has a reputation of delivering loads of a free stuff to consumers that is useful. Microsoft, on the other hand, if you read the bloggersphere is this rapacious company that spies on customers and sends their data back to it’s corporate servers. Yet the two key ‘AI’ apps that are supposed to reflect the knowledge Google and Microsoft have about their customers seem to react wrongly. You would expect Cortana to just know everything if Microsoft was really trawling personal information the way bloggers think then Cortana should be way better than it is.

Instead Google knows it all. Could it be that the deep integration of Google apps and Google’s never ending quest to know you enough to serve relevant ads is more intrusive? Could it be that Microsoft’s claim that it sandboxes your personal information is true and the data it collects is really anonymous?

If you investigate you find that Cortana needs to read an email in the format described by schema.org. In other words it doesn’t go through the email itself but reads the meta data defined by the format. Your airline needs to support this or maybe Expedia or whoever you use for bookings.

Google just reads your stuff to serve you ads.

The bottom line is that Microsoft have the reputation for trashing privacy but if you judge via the Cortana personal assistant then the reputation is mis-placed.

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