Good bye Cortana, hello…Alexa?? 

After what seems like an eternity, Microsoft has finally let go of the last remains of the Kinect with the end of Cortana on Xbox. However, for those who do prefer to use a voice command utility do not fret you can use your Alexa or Google voice assistant instead, utilizing your mobile device or in-home device. 

Here’s how to get started with the beta (From xbox.com):
1. Join our Google Group with the Google Account you intend to use
2. Sign into your Xbox
3. In the Google Home app for iOS or Android:
1. Tap “+ Add”
2. Tap “Set up device”
3. Tap “Have something already set up?”
4. Search for and select “[beta] Xbox”
4. Sign in with the Microsoft account you use on Xbox
5. Follow the instructions to link your Xbox and give it a device name
*If no devices are found, try enabling the Digital Assistants setting on your console (Settings > Devices & Streaming > Digital Assistants)

So long and thanks for all the gags

While many have been happy to get rid of Cortana all together, some recent statements from Microsoft have rekindled the discussion about censorship and voice command utilities.

In an effort to fight back against that toxicity, Microsoft recently announced that it had begun rolling out new filters for Xbox Live designed to block out potentially offensive messages. The company is reportedly trying to figure out how to do the same for voice messages.

A look at tomorrow

According to a Microsoft blog post, Xbox users will be able to choose between four levels of content filtration: Friendly, Medium, Mature, and Unfiltered.

If their system flags a message as being beyond the limits set, it will replace the message with a placeholder reading “potentially offensive message hidden.” Leaving the recipient the decision to view the potentially offensive material.

Microsoft Research is already trying to crack real-time speech-to-text— a technology that would allow it to transcribe a verbal conversation essentially as it takes place — and Xbox is already contemplating what that could mean for its online community.

What we’ve started to experiment with is ‘Hey, if we’re real-time translating speech to text, and we’ve got these text filtering capabilities, what can we do in terms of blocking possible communications in a voice setting?’” Dave McCarthy, head of Microsoft’s Xbox operations, told The Verge.

Rob Smith, a program manager on the Xbox Live engineering team, added that the “ultimate goal” would be a system that could “detect a bad phrase [in voice conversations] and beep it out for users who don’t want to see that.”

Shhhhhh

Paired with some recent revelations that Microsoft contractors had listened to many Skype calls and audio from Cortana. With an unnamed contractor stating that a good many were very clearly unintentional activations of Cortana. Many reportedly being recordings lasting a second or two long of people saying “No” to full blown strings of insults hurled at Cortana for undoubtedly popping up in the middle of a game.

While the technology is still a ways off, the current discourse surrounding many tech companies and their view of the 1st ammendment on both sides have many taking slight notice.

What do you think about Microsoft's decision?
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