Cortana is Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant created for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.
It allows you to search for things on your computer and phone, it manages your schedule, answers text messages, track packages, find files, chat with you, tell jokes, and can open apps. In many ways it is like Apple’s Siri and Spotlight features all rolled into one.
“One of the things Cortana can do is set and give reminders”
Being named after the female AI character in Microsoft’s “Halo” learns the speech patterns and preferences of individual users, answering questions and providing information extracted from emails, calendar entries or the internet. Cortana will be able to draw upon and add to this data in order to learn a user’s specific patterns and behaviours.
The more you use Cortana the more it learns and personalises to you
The information learned users can view with the aim of offering greater control over privacy settings by allowing them to specify what information is collected, this is done in Cortana’s Notebook. The Notebook offers the users “a level of control that goes beyond comparable assistants” as users can also delete information from the Notebook if they deem it undesirable for Cortana to know.
Within Cortana’s Notebook you tell it about your interests, favourites places, and things you want to keep up on. You can add as much or as little information into Cortana’s Notebook as you wish to get better, more personalised help.
Some of the categories you can include are:
- Weather: Set your location or a friends and keep up to date with the weather.
- Eat & Drink: Planning a special night out? Why not ask for recommended restaurants in your area?
- News: Following an event? Then keep up to date about it’s information.
- Travel: Need to track flight itineraries? Flight details and itineraries are pulled straight out and give you your flight status, plus inform you of the traffic conditions to the airport, and the weather at your destination.
- Getting Around: Do you require more time to get to that next appointment? Cortana can find out how traffic is looking on your normal routes
Microsoft no longer creates products on a one-size fits all model and now embraces local culture, points of interest, and humour to market its products around.
So what does this mean for Australians?
It means for Cortana users in the Australian region they will have a user experience that is designed for Australian’s and uses an Australian accent based on known Australian actresses Margot Robbie and Melissa George. In addition to the accent Microsoft claims Cortana will know all about indigenous legends, bushrangers and local sports stars.
With Cortana “Active Listening” you can, just by saying, “Hey Cortana” much like Apple’s Siri “Hey Siri” command, provoke an automatic search or action. You can ask Cortana anything you like.
“Hey Cortana, sing me Waltzing Matilda”
Being apart of Microsoft’s Windows-As-A-Service platform whereby there will be no more Windows versions and Windows 10 will be a single operating system spanning all of Microsoft’s Windows powered devices, from desktops and laptops all the way through to tablets and phones. Therefore, Cortana is at the centre of everything Microsoft and follows you around.
Cortana is a multi-platform personal digital assistant whereby it is not only tied to Windows 10 or Windows 10 mobile, but it is also available on Xbox One, Android and iOS also.
Cortana has been designed with you in mind, it’s design is influenced by human beings – Personal Assistants. One of the main features that has came out of that R&D is the Notebook feature, the area that governs your personalised experience; your music, your movies & tv, your news, maps, weather, sports, and travel. It is intelligent and the more you use Cortana the more it begins to personalise for you, just like if you had your own personal assistant.
Cortana relies heavily on Microsoft’s Bing Services, it is built into Microsoft’s Edge (their new web browser) and works seamless across all Microsoft compatible devices and integrates into other services like Foursquare , LIFX, LinkedIn, Dictionary.com, Flixster, Office 365 and many more.
In a Nutshell
Cortana is set to be the leading personal digital assistant leaving Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri behind and with time it will only get better.
As Cortana learns more about you she enhances her ability to help you prepare for meetings, learn about the people you work with, and remind you where you need to be next so you won’t be late.
Therefore, Cortana is the next evolution to intelligent personal digital assistants and will be a great tool for many that use it. However it is only that, a tool to assist you in your daily endeavours and will only be as good as the information you provide.