Microsoft has confirmed that its personal digital phone assistant Cortana is coming to Android and iOS. It’s also coming to PCs, but, you know, who talks about desktops any more. From the announcement:

Part of the power of a personal assistant comes from being available on the go, on the device you carry with you everywhere. And for people who don’t have the benefit of a Windows phone, we want to extend the advantage of Cortana in Windows 10. How will this work? Today, we’re announcing a Cortana application for Android phones and for iPhones which works as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC.

So far, Siri has been the faceless poster child for digital assistants, but it’s also gotten the brunt of most of the jokes. Certainly, for most, its usefulness seemed to average down to setting alarms at night. When Cortana debuted, many touted its broader capabilities since it was able to open apps and toggle settings and was generally more responsive. But its big problem was that it was only available on Windows phones, the phones everybody seemed to like but nobody wanted to own.

With the announcement, Cortana is getting a bigger stage, not just against Siri, but also Google Now, the non-personified Google equivalent. So maybe this is the pressure that starts making digital personal assistants more helpful. Of course, the caveat is that Cortana won’t be as full-featured as its Windows phone counterpart, since they don’t have the access to the operating systems and hardware to integrate deeply enough. So it might be a nonstarter.

Either way, I feel somehow guilty for using neuter pronouns throughout this post.

All right. We’ve got a new site. But thanks to The Onion, we’re going to keep this announcement low-key. Basically, we’ve made our work more prominent on Maark.com. Now you can see the full breadth of what we do, along with detailed examples. And that full breadth? Well, it’s anything digital, plus some. From marketing strategy to product design to digital campaigns, we can help you with one-off projects or partner with you for the duration, from messaging all the way through to prototyping. We do all that. See how here.

Posted by Jason

Man, we are terrified of drones. They shoot at people from above, peek into our private lives, crash into things. But with the proliferation of affordable tech and major companies like Amazon trying to bring them online, it seems inevitable that our skies will darken with them. Honestly, I’ve always found the consumer uses a bit boring. I mean, how many impersonal altitude shots do I need in my life?

Then I saw the Lily Camera.

They don’t market it as a drone, but as a flying camera. Like your personal camera, just aloft. It’s not meant for you to surveil the scene, but to take advantage of recording your life.

Imagine you could just chuck your smartphone into the air when you want a photo or a video.

Of course it’s big (although smaller than many drones), and it has the Google Glass problem of jutting into everyone’s personal space (Uh, is your drone filming me?). And it’s not on the market yet. So all kinds of problems.

But the idea is sound. I mean, an autonomous camera assistant? That’s a step in the direction of what we all really want: an autonomous assistant…period.

I was going to do a quick post on contactless mobile payments, but got quickly overwhelmed. Try this: Enter “contactless mobile payments” into Google News. See? So much activity, and a lot of it conflicting. I mean, here’s Samsung killing Samsung Wallet for lack of consumer uptake but then also jumpstarting a new acquisition under Samsung Pay. Here’s Apple referring to 2015 as the “Year of Apple Pay” based mostly on the number of partnerships they’ve gathered, and yet here’s Goldman Sachs dinging Apple on consumer uptake. And everybody seems to be somewhere in the cycle of buying, developing, and retiring some form of contactless mobile payment systems, from credit card companies to telecoms to banks to technology and software companies.

It took decades for the credit cards to become ubiquitous. And this is probably just that slog again. It does seem like the infrastructure is getting there, especially now that Apple is putting its muscle behind it. That was the biggest hurdle. Next, is convincing the general populace that it’s easier than a small plastic card that never needs charging, doesn’t have data caps, and won’t break when you drop it on McDonald’s tile floor.

But I can also see people saying something similar when comparing cash and credit cards (Cash doesn’t demagnetize, snap in two, or give access to your entire line of credit when stolen).

Although somehow cash is still around, too. I mean, we’re trying to establish contactless mobile payments in a world where the penny still exists. Paying for things is hard.

Posted by Jason

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Here’s a thought-provoking piece on Chris Dixon’s blog about the decline of the mobile web. In it, he discusses some of the ramifications of recent trends around organization putting their entire mobile strategy in apps while leaving their mobile websites to ghettoize. According to the post:

The likely end state is the [mobile] web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

This will hurt long-term innovation…

How this shakes out could really determine our relationship with, and the nature of, the web in the near-future.

Oh, and make sure you also read through the comments, as there are some great counterpoints and some interesting context there.