Tag Archives: Cortana

Microsoft Unveils Cortana, Your Personal Digital Assistant for Windows Phone 8.1


Microsoft’s BUILD 2014 developer conference in San Francisco was the place to be Wednesday, as the company unveiled a slew of great features for Windows devices. The Windows 8.1 rollout was the center piece of the show, but all eyes were on the personal digital assistant for Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana.

If Apple has its Siri, and Android its Google Now, Windows is getting its very own sexy assistant, Cortana, who gets her name from the AI character in the Halo video game series. Jen Taylor the voice actress in Halo will be lending her talents to this digital assistant as well.

Spend a little time telling Cortana about your interests and she will soon be assisting you with a horde of information on the weather, the sports scores, the traffic situation, things that you need to discuss with your clients, stuff that you need to be reminded of and more. Cortana will observe your browsing patterns, your general phone usage and together with your personal input arrive at smart sensible suggestions that will be stored in a cloud based “notebook” that will be totally under your control.

Cortana is said to be inspired by real personal assistants, so she should work like one. For instance, silencing your calls and notifications when you are in a meeting, advising when to depart for a flight based on the traffic conditions, reminding you to wish or congratulate someone on a special occasion when you are talking to them, and even planning your day for you from start to finish is just some of the things she can assist you with.

Cortana is designed to speak to you as you would when you’re having a normal conversation. She is ever ready to chat to you about herself, her likes and dislikes, her life, what she does in her time off; you could even ask her a few good Halo 4 wining tips if you like. But she is also just as happy to stay quiet when you prefer to let your fingers do the talking.

Cortana will be powered by Bing and will be integrated into Skype and other Microsoft apps, but third party developers will also be able to integrate Cortana into their services.

The service will be rolling out with the Windows 8.1 update, which should happen sometime this summer (May or June) in the U.S. U.K and China should see the update happening in the second half of this year while the rest of the world is likely to say hello to Cortana only in 2015. If you are picking up a new Windows device, Cortana and Windows 8.1 will come pre-installed on them.

Are you looking forward to interacting with Cortana? And do you believe she will be the true personal assistant you’ve been searching for all your life?

Take a Sneak Peek at Windows Phone 8.1 Voice Assistant Cortana

The frenzied rumors that Windows 8.1 will be featuring a Siri-like voice assistant in the form of a Halo inspired character Cortana appears to be gaining more foundation. Unleashthephones.com managed to grab Cortana at work in a 2 minute video that shows the basic setup that will get you started on Cortana. Sadly, we don’t get to hear the voice in the video, but if you’re eager to learn a little more about how Cortana, watch the video.


Cortana can be activated either from the Start screen or via the hardware Search button. The first thing you need to do before you get started is sign in with your Microsoft account. Cortana will then ask you a series of questions to get to know you a little bit better. For instance, once you let Cortana know how you wish to be called, it will ask you to choose a couple of answers for a series of questions that include the following:

  • What are a couple of the most enjoyable parts of your everyday evenings?
  • When you think about food, what’s most important to you these days?
  • What are two of your main motivations for going out to an event/activity?
  • When you want to catch up on what’s going on in the world, which section do you go to first?

Cortana will also analyze text messages, location info, contacts, email data, browser history and search history to understand user behavior and habits.

The video also shows us a little bit about how Cortana works during Quiet hours. Basically, Cortana takes care of your calls, texts and other notifications, but you can choose to turn it on, off, or set it to turn on automatically. Some of the options that are allowed during Quiet hours are calls made 2 times in 3 minutes, or calls and text messages made by your “inner circle”.  Contacts who are allowed through may also be notified by Cortana that you are busy.

Cortana is obviously still a work in progress but it is exciting to see a little bit of the software in action. Whado you think of Cortana? Are you looking forward to this Windows Phone 8.1 voice assistant?

Halo’s Cortana set to take on Siri and Google now?

With the Microsoft Developer’s BUILD 2014 just months away, rumors are flying thick and fast as to what we can expect to play out in the conference. One of the big noises we are hearing is that Windows Phone will get Halo character Cortana as its voice nav assistant.

Jen Taylor, who lends her voice to the popular AI character Cortana is rumored to be the voice behind this apparent game changing service, which will roll out to more than just mobile devices.The website also reports that the Bing app for iPhone will receive this service most likely in the fall of this year with U.S Xbox One owners and Windows users in other English speaking countries getting access to it over the next two years.

If the MSFTnerd reveal turns out to be correct, U.S developers could see a Cortana Beta on Lumia devices as early as this April. But if you’d like to see a little bit of the technology at work, you could check out Microsoft’s Bing Translator app for Windows, which apparently is already featuring Cortana-styled improvements in its speech recognition mechanism.

Cortana is expected to be an app that does more than just the usual voice enabled commands. Steve Ballmer, in his strategy memo in July, hinted that the company is working on a magical “service-enabled shell” which will be deeply personalized, learning what people want and anticipating what they need even before they ask for it. And many voices are suggesting this shell could just as well be Cortana.

While this sounds exciting enough, we will still have to take it with a pinch of salt as no official communication or leaks have been made as yet. However there is just enough here to keep our eyes and ears open in deep anticipation.