Cortana Brings Intelligence and Bots to Skype

SAN FRANCISCO — Your Skype chat client is about to get a whole lot smarter. At its annual Build developer conference today, Microsoft showed how its popular messaging client is going to integrate with Cortana and third-party bots.

During the day one keynote, Skype Group Program Manager Lilian Rincon showed off these upcoming features. First, she took a video message from her manager, congratulating her on her spot in the keynote.

Then she showed a series of A.I. related features. After hearing from her boss, Rincon pointed out that Cortana can assist you in your chats. Cortana highlighted the most important parts of text, including locations and conferences. Those turned into hyperlinks that she and her conversation partner  used to get more information about places and things.

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In addition, Rincon was able to direct message directly with Cortana, which acted as a broker between her and a business, “Cups and Cakes.” She was able to use Cortana to share her address with the bakery and track how long her cupcake delivery would take.

She demonstrated a bot for the hotel chain Westin by saying that she wanted a place to stay on a trip to Berlin. Cortana coordinated with Rincon’s calendar and the Westin bot via Skype to make a reservation and fill in the stay in Outlook.

Rincon reached out to a friend to say she would be in town during the trip, and Cortana recognized why they were talking and pre-populated information based on context.

Starting today, developers will have access to bots to create video bots for brands and characters. Consumers can now use bots on iOS, Android and Windows. An upcoming version of Skype was also announced for HoloLens.