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Cortana, Windows Phone's Siri, Is Unexpectedly Amazing

May 23 2014 - 10:34am

When Windows revealed its own voice-activated personal assistant for Windows Phone, Cortana [1], last month, we couldn't wait to try it for ourselves. The simple interface and Her-like (as in, the movie [2]) behavior had us intrigued. Could Cortana best both Siri and Google Now?

We finally did get to see the not-yet-released Cortana in the flesh, and she's . . . unexpectedly amazing. Cortana has information for you — before you even prompt her with a question. She shows up as an app on the Windows Phone homescreen and provides a summary of things you're interested in, like the stock price of the company you work for, the score of your favorite team, or news updates on topics that matter to you.

And when you do ask her a question, Cortana is smart about her response. If you type a query, she'll type back. If you ask a query, she'll respond back with her voice. The nuances of Cortana are best experienced in person — so scroll down and watch for yourself.

Cortana ships with Windows Phone 8.1, which arrives to regular folks (aka nondevelopers) in early June.

Source: Twitter user windowsphone [3]

"Find me a restaurant nearby."

The kicker is that Cortana can be customized to open voice directions in a non-Windows, third-party app!

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

Windows Phone 8.1 Homescreen

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

Cortana's Notebook

This is where Cortana collects information about you. No longer interested in Beyoncé (although we could never imagine why)? Simply long-press to delete it from the notebook.

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

Cortana Reminder

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

Cortana Dashboard

This is what the news section of the Cortana app looks like.

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

Windows Phone 8.1 — DataSense

DataSense is a new feature in 8.1 that monitors data use and helps you make choices on when you should use data vs. WiFi for certain apps.

Photo: Nicole Nguyen


This view shows you how intensely each app uses cellular data.

Photo: Nicole Nguyen

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