Move over Siri: Meet Windows Phone’s Cortana

Archie Dimaculangan

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Windows Phone digital assistant 'Cortana' will appear as circular icon which animates when it speaks or thinks and will sport a custom color depending on the hue of your phone

MANILA, Philippines — There’s a new virtual assistant in town.

Armed with Google Now’s pervasiveness and Siri’s personality, Microsoft’s digital aide named “Cortana” will be arriving with the upcoming Windows 8.1 update soon.

Cortana was first revealed to the public after a Microsoft employee lost a phone running the unreleased update last year. Sources close to the hush-hush project told The Verge, Microsoft’s virtual assistant will serve as a complete replacement for the existing Bing search feature on the Windows Phone OS platform.

Similar to Apple’s Siri, Cortana will appear as circular icon which animates when it speaks or thinks. However, Windows’ virtual aide will sport a custom color depending on the hue of the Windows Phone being used. Cortana will also be able to express emotion through different animations.

For example, the icon will bounce when it “feels happy,” or display a frown to express displeasure.

Much like Google Now which uses the search titan’s services to respond to user commands, Cortana will utilize Windows’ features including Foursquare and Bing to provide digital assistance. The digital assistant will also prompt the user to create reminders upon receiving messages such as “Let’s meet tomorrow at 8pm.” General information about the weather, stocks, traffic, and directions will also be provided by Cortana relative to the phone’s current location.

As users continue to perform actions on their smartphones, Cortana will create a knowledge pool including information about the users’ interests, location, and schedule. Familiar technology such as do-not-disturb mode and incoming email alerts will also be integrated with Microsoft’s virtual aide.

Because of this advanced data gathering technology, The Verge reported that Cortana will come with a separate “Notebook” feature to control how much information the digital assistant can absorb.

“While Cortana will learn things about users, it won’t store them in the Notebook without asking you, and any information that’s stored can be edited or deleted,” explained Tom Warren of The Verge

Tech pundits have looked into the possibility of Microsoft’s mobile digital assistant being ported into tech giant’s other services. Eric Limer of Gizmodo said that Cortana will change what it means to use a computer if she finds her way into the Windows desktop and Xbox gaming platforms.

“She could help put a lot more ‘service’ in devices and services,” Limer said.

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