Microsoft Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant created by Microsoft for Windows Phone 8.1 (where it

150px-Microsoft Cortana.svg

supersedes Bing Mobile), Microsoft Band, and coming to Windows 10, iOS, Android, and the Xbox One.

Cortana was demonstrated for the first time at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference (April 2–4, 2014) in San Francisco. It has been launched as a key ingredient of Microsoft's planned "makeover" of the future operating systems for Windows Phone and Windows. It is named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft's Halo video game series, with Jen Taylor, the character's voice actress, returning to voice the personal assistant's US-specific version.

As of 2015, Cortana is available as a beta to all users of Windows Phone 8.1 in the United States (US English), China (Mandarin Chinese), and the United Kingdom (UK English). Users in certain countries can also choose to opt-in to the alpha for the English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish versions of Cortana on Windows Phone as of August 2014. In most of these regions, Cortana is also available via Windows Insider to both PC and mobile preview users of Windows 10.

Features Edit

Cortana's features include being able to set reminders, recognize natural voice without the user having to input a predefined series of commands, and answer questions using information from Bing (like current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, and biographies) Windows 8.1's universal Bing SmartSearch features are incorporated into Cortana, which replaces the previous Bing Search app which is activated when a user presses the "Search" button on their device. Cortana also includes a music recognition service. Cortana can also roll dice and flip a coin by asking the commands "roll a die" (one die), "roll the dice" (two dice), and "flip a coin", Concert Watch is a feature that helps Cortana determine which bands or musicians you are interested in by monitoring your Bing searches. Cortana also integrates with the Microsoft Band for Windows Phone devices if connected via bluetooth. On the Microsoft Band Cortana can make reminders and bring phone notifications.

Since the Lumia Denim series, launched in October 2014, active listening was added to Cortana, enabling it to be triggered with the phrase: “Hey Cortana,” even across the room and without the need to touch the phone. After the trigger phrase is spoken, Cortana can be controlled normally for tasks like setting a reminder, asking a question, or launching an app. Some devices from the United Kingdom by O2 have received the Lumia Denim update without the feature but this was later clarified as a bug and Microsoft had since fixed it.

Cortana also integrates with services like Foursquare to provide restaurant and local attraction recommendations.

Notebook Edit

The "Notebook" is where personal information such as interests, location data, reminders, and contacts will be stored for access by Cortana. Cortana will be able to draw upon and add to this data in order to learn a user's specific patterns and behaviors. Users will be able to view this information, with the aim of offering greater control over privacy settings by allowing them to specify what information is collected, "a level of control that goes beyond comparable assistants". Users can also delete information from the "Notebook" if they deem it undesirable for Cortana to know.

Design Edit

Most versions of Cortana take the form of two nested, animated circles. The circles are animated to indicate certain activities such as searching or talking.

Miscellaneous Edit

Cortana features a "do-not-disturb" mode in which users can specify "quiet hours", something that is already available for Windows Phone 8.1 users. Users can change the settings so that Cortana calls users by their names (or nicknames). It also has an extensive library of Easter Eggs, consisting of witty and pre-determined remarks.

Cortana correctly predicted the winners of the first 14 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup knockout stage, including the semi-finals, before it incorrectly picked Brazil over the Netherlands in the third place play-off match. This streak topped Paul the Octopus who correctly predicted all 7 of Germany's 2010 FIFA World Cup matches as well as the Final. Furthermore Cortana can also predict the games of various other sports such as the NBA, the NFL, the Super Bowl, the ICC Cricket world cup and various European Football Leagues. Cortana can also solve mathematical equations, convert units such as between Celsius and Fahrenheit, meters and feet, and calculate the exchange rate between currencies including Bitcoin.

As of April 2015, Cortana is disabled for users aged under 13 years.

Cortana in other services Edit

Microsoft has integrated Cortana into numerous products such as Microsoft Edge, the browser bundled with Windows 10. At the Worldwide Partners Conference 2015, Microsoft demonstrated Cortana integration with upcoming products such as GigJam. Cortana functionality will be available to developers to integrate with their services. The Cortana Analytics Suite was also announced at the conference.

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