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Microsoft Cortana -Turkey’s Twitter Trouble Over – April Fools Highlights

Microsoft announces details of Siri competitor

Microsoft has introduced the world to Cortana, its long awaited answer to Siri, the voice recognition software owned by Apple.

Cortana was revealed yesterday at the Build developers conference in San Francisco by Windows Phone chief Joe Belfiore. The service shares her name with the AI system in the video game Halo, a franchise with close ties to Microsoft's Xbox.

Cortana is touted as a virtual assistant and the firm believe her capabilities make her a true rival both of Apple's Siri and of Google Now. Speaking on his blog, Mr Belifore said of Cortana:

"She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you."

Microsoft's aim for the software recalls the recent film 'Her' in which director Spike Jonze explores a sometimes uncomfortably close relationship with technology; in the film, protagonist Theodore and an operating system called Samantha fall in love.

At the conference, Mr Belfiore said "the point is the user is in control of his or her relationship with Cortana." Users can ask specific tasks, for instance to schedule a flight or set a reminder, but Cortana can also learn a person's interests and can flag news articles and other items it thinks the user will find useful.

However, phone owners still retain control over the app: if the inferences it makes are wrong you can edit the rules followed by the program in a digital notebook.

First releasing in the US and then to follow in other territories, Cortana will be available as part of a Windows Phone 8.1 software update, coming soon.

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Turkish constitutional court lifts Twitter ban

The highest court in Turkey has lifted the Twitter ban which it said was a violation of freedom of expression and individual rights.

The social network was blocked in Turkey late last month, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would "wipe out Twitter" after people used the site to spread allegations of corruption. A second block, this time of YouTube, followed shortly after, when the Turkish government took action against an anonymous recording, which showed security officials discussing the possibility of military action in Syria.

In its ruling, the constitutional court ordered the ban on Twitter to be lifted immediately. Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor involved in the case said that the government "need to obey the decision, there is nothing else they can do; there is no appeal".

During the block, Twitter was only accessible to the tech savvy natives who could use a workaround, for example, a proxy server on a clandestine private network.

After two weeks with no general service, the social media site was made available to the Turkish public on Thursday.

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Our favourite pranks from this year's April Fools

April fools' day has passed and once again it leaves internet users deeply confused and bewildered as the ordinarily simple task to find reliable information on the internet is made difficult by wilful pranksters.

Staff at theEword have looked at many of the jokes which went out online on Tuesday, and have gathered here the best in a hotly contested list :

  • -- Kickstarter pulled our collective legs when they suggested they would revert to old brand name Kickstartr, a glib laugh at the tech trend of dropping vowels.

  • -- The Guardian hosted a few different pranks, but the best is this article from Pete Etcheles which satirises the relationship between technology and journalism.

  • -- Google co-opted the term selfie, claiming its customisable backgrounds were responsible for the fad. It then pretended to launch a new product, shelfies, based upon this intentional misconception.

  • -- LinkRisk subjected SEO professionals to a hoax which claimed that Google have developed a new tag to double the strength of links.

  • -- Reddit staff said they were going to stay clear of the jokes and instead introduced readers to a new interactive way of browsing the website, in which you nod at the screen to like articles and frown to dislike them.

That's it for our staff picks. You can expect more hilarious jokes and pranks on April Fools' day next year.

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Written by Rachel Hand

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