In a bid to give Windows phone users another reason to be excited about the platform, Microsoft on Wednesday has unveiled its know-it-all “personal digital assistant” Cortana.
Being one of the new features coming to a Windows Phone update called 8.1, Cortana will enable users to control their Windows phone features over voice commands. Powered by Bing-maps Cortona will allow to schedule appointments, set alarms/reminders, find nearby places, and do much more.
“Cortana will launch shortly in the U.S. as a beta, in the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, and in other countries in 2015,” the company announced. “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.”
Now the real question is – what kind of voice this Cortona creature will get? According to Tom Warren of The Verge, Cortona’s voice and character will be based on a popular artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s blockbuster Xbox console video game “Halo.”
When launched, Cortana runs through a basic question-answer session with the user to establish a personalized experience. This includes questions like user’s name, his/her food preferences and other personal choices. One of the best features is its ability to trigger action based events. So you can add a reminder like “next time the boss calls remind me to talk about month ending report” and Cortana takes care of the rest for you.
Other than Cortana, Microsoft has announced a number of other updates. In order to make its Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones more personalised, the company is including Action Center – a real time Live Tiles feature that will show new activities and notification on a user’s screen at a glance.
Microsoft has also integrated Skype in new ways to its 8.1 update that will allow users to switch directly to a Skype voice or video call within phone calls. It moreover has revamped its older keyboard to something called “wordflow”, which will support gesture-based typing, similar to those found in Android. Check out the video: