New software allows Mac users to 'talk' to their computers despite the lack of Siri for computers

Cortana works in OS X, provided you have a Windows 10 virtual machine.
Cortana works in OS X, provided you have a Windows 10 virtual machine. Parallels

Mac users can now speak to their computers to access functions and menus in the same way they do on the iPhone and iPad.

United States-based software maker Parallels has launched its Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac, bringing the latest Microsoft Windows 10 operating system's virtual personal assistant feature, dubbed Cortana, to Mac computers. This works only if Windows 10 is installed as a virtual machine on the Mac computer via Parallels' software. Users can then issue voice commands to Cortana on the OS X desktop, marking the first time a Windows operating system feature is made available to Mac users.

Apple's personal assistant Siri remains unavailable on Mac computers, despite being integrated in the iPhone and the iPad.

Unlike a similar feature known as Apple Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop allow users to switch between Windows and OS X operating systems without rebooting their computers. Still, users of Parallels Desktop must own a Windows operating system license.

The tight integration between Windows and OS X in Parallels Desktop 11 goes both ways. The Quick Look feature in OS X, which lets users preview a document without opening it in its default app, now works for Windows documents and files. Location data gathered by the Mac computer's hardware is now available in real time to Windows apps.

Another new feature on Parallels Desktop 11 is Travel Mode. The software can tell when the computer is running on battery power and optimise resources to improve battery life. Parallels claims users may see battery life improve by up to 25 per cent. The company said users can expect general performance gains of up to 50 per cent in Parallels Desktop 11 compared with the previous version. The software will fully support OS X El Capitan when the operating system is released later this year.

To cater to developers and other power users, Parallels has added a new edition this year. Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac Pro Edition has all the features of the standard version while integrating developer tools such as Docker and Visual Studio. The software includes a network simulator so that developers can test their apps running in an unstable network.

Businesses can opt for Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac Business Edition. This version includes centralised administrative and management tools for IT staff.

Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac costs $108 and is available today at local retailers such as Challenger and EpiCentre. Existing Parallels Desktop 9 or 10 users can upgrade to the latest version for $68.

The Pro and Business editions are available for a yearly subscription fee of $134.