Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri voice assistant is set to arrive in the next major update to its Windows Phone operating system. Here’s what it’ll look like.
We’ve been keeping tabs on one key feature set to grace the next significant update to Microsoft’s mobile operating system. Windows Phone 8.1 will boast a number of key improvements and changes including tile wallpapers for your homescreen, ‘Action Center’, which will combine notifications and quick settings and Cortana; a voice-based virtual assistant taking its name from Microsoft’s incredibly successful Halo franchise.
Whilst we’ve already covered some of the features Cortana will be able to offer users, The Verge has not only caught wind of a few more, but also brought to light the first images of what the service’s main interface will look like. It looks as though our guesswork was pretty spot on, with a blue circular icon, responding to the user’s voice input and any tasks it needs to undertake.
Alongside searching for items on Bing and being able to pull information from your contacts and calendar, you’ll be able to set nicknames, just like Siri, so Cortana can refer to you how you best prefer. Cortana’s notebook will also hold additional information on your contacts and their relationship to you, flight information referenced in your email and more.
We’re still unsure of a concrete date for the Windows Phone 8.1 rollout, but Cortana will be the most impressive and notable feature when it hits. As well as calling upon it/her using voice, the magnifying glass hardware key found on every current Windows Phone device will now link directly to Cortana, rather than Bing.
Update 5/3/14: The guys at UnleashThePhones.com have managed to grab some hands-on time with a build of Cortana, showing the interface, animations, setup process and settings menu. It would appear that when your first launch Cortana you’re asked what you’d like to be called i.e. a nickname, and then a series of questions in order to get to know you, understand your interests and as such, tailor the search experience to your tastes going forward. Take a look.
Excited for the update? Let us know what you think about Cortana and voice assistance on mobile in general in the comments section.