Yup, you read it right. Cortana, the semantic voice recognition feature bundled with Windows 10 will soon be part of Xbox One. It is essentially Microsoft’s answer to Siri for Windows, which means you’ll soon be able to have a quasi-nuanced conversation with the black box sitting by your TV and you’ll be able to speak to your Xbox One more naturally.
Though Xbox One voice control required Kinect, Cortana will work with either Kinect or your garden variety headset. You’ll still need Kinect if you want to ply the Xbox One’s mostly-off-but-listening mode, where you can say “Xbox on” and wake it up. But it sounds like everything else will be headset-ready. This is phenomenal news to those who sacrificed voice control to buy the Xbox One without Kinect to save a pile of money.
How nuanced this iteration of Cortana will be we don’t yet know, and Microsoft makes reference to developing Cortana’s features over time. I read that as not feature parity with the Windows version, perhaps because the Xbox One’s interface is comparably basic, or because of the box’s processing limitations. But if more natural voice control means anything to you, you can’t do it with Sony’s PlayStation 4—or any other console at present.
The update includes other features, like a Facebook friend finder, better Windows 10 integration and some tune-ups for existing features. But they’re all tweaks compared to what’s effectively the arrival of the world’s first console-bound, semantic voice recognition persona.