The anticipation and exuberance when Belfiore said “I’m thrilled for you all to now meet our truly personal digital assistant for Windows Phone”, was beyond description as Cortana was no doubt the major highlight of the event.
Cortana is very much Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s S Voice, and all the other voice assists software suites out there.
It lets you manage basic phone functions, set appointments, perform searches, play back music, and set so-called quiet hours when only your inner circle of contacts may reach you. Similar to Google Now, Cortana learns from the web searches you perform and the locations you frequent to try and provide contextually sensitive and timely information.
Visually, Cortana is represented by a circular icon that adopts the same color scheme as your Windows Phone theme. It also pulsates when she speaks and rotates when searching for an answer.
One of its cool functions demoed by Belfiore is the ability to answer incomplete questions, such as “how about in Celsius?” following the initial query of “what’s the temperature in Las Vegas?” The Halo-inspired voice assistant will launch in beta in the United States, with the UK and China being among the first countries to get it afterwards followed by India and South East Asia.
Windows Phone 8.1 with support for Cortana will roll out as an update to consumers “in the next few months”, though brand new Windows Phone 8.1 phones might be on sale sooner, with Joe Belfiore promising them for either April or early May.
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