Microsoft’s personal digital assistant: Meet Cortana

Virtual voice assistant like Apple’s Siri can make things easier for you as they reduce the amount of time or steps required to complete a task. All you need to do is tell them what you want and the voice-command assistant will get to work. Using just your voice you will be able to send a text, find a restaurant or set an alarm.

When Windows Phone 8.1 launched, one of the updates that users will be able to enjoy with the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS will be Cortana, the company’s answer to Siri. Just as Apple, Microsoft has opted for a female name for their voice assistant, in this case they chose the name of one of the character’s of Halo, one of the most popular first person shoot’em up game.

In Halo, Cortana guides the player through the battleground and even though in the game, this artificial intelligence character may turn bad, Microsoft expects that for Windows Phone 8.1 users, it acts as a reliable companion. The fact that Cortana could be voiced by Jen Taylor, who also gives life to the character in the game, would also result appealing to fans. When the new mobile OS is released, we will know if Cortana meets the expectations. By now, we can take a look at some of the features that it can offer.

Notebook that stores searches and personalizes results

Cortana works with Bing and uses your voice searches to keep your preferences stored in its Notebook and learn about you when it comes to food, places, travel and more. This enables the personal digital assistant to provide personalized results the more you use it.

Reminders and detailed searches

You can also use text commands. For instance, you can type a reminder asking Cortana to remind you that you are meeting a friend for dinner. You can also ask Cortana about important dates, matches results and also for weather reports, which it can deliver in Celsius or Fahrenheit.

Apps access and usage

Cortana does not offer anything new when it comes to supporting voice commands and it works very similar to Siri or Google Now. However, it does offer a great app integration mode which allows you to access a profile in Facebook, list a TV show to watch in Hulu or start a Skype call. All you need to do is let Cortana know what you want to do in your favorite apps.

Contacts and quiet times

Cortana is able to recognize what is the relationship with your frequent contacts. Since it is highly intuitive and is designed to be personalized, it can even get to know when you prefer to have a quiet time and will silence the phone during these hours. If you wish, you can allow it to restore the sound when one of your close friends or family (your inner circle) are calling you.

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