Details emerge on Cortana's first major update, launch in India and future on Windows and Xbox One

One of the best features of Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, is that it can be updated on the back-end, without the need for the user to do anything. As such Cortana becomes more and more intelligent and useful in a subtle way over time.

And this is exactly what’s been happening in the past few days. Some users are reporting new additions to Cortana’s repertoire, a slightly changed UI, and a new Quiz option that allows the AI to learn a bit more info about you.

Right now this seems to be a either a staggered release or a public beta test of an upcoming update. In either case the new features will no doubt become available to everyone as Microsoft prepares to officially launch Windows Phone 8.1.

That’s where the official info ends, but there’s a bit more to this story. WPCentral forum member Talderon claims he’s a Microsoft employee with knowledge and access to the upcoming builds and updates. This hasn’t been verified but the information he’s sharing seems to be on the mark, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

According to Talderon, and it’s obvious you should take this with a big grain of salt, these are some of the features that Microsoft’s currently working on. Note that most of them are confirmed by users who have already received the update.

  • Enhanced Sports and News cards
  • Interest Improvements
  • UI changes adding lines between different cards and sections
  • Flight tracking data and e-mail parsing being improved
  • New jokes, songs and general chit-chat improvements,
  • More Jen Taylor - less robot voice
  • Lots of bugfixes. 

This user also claims that Cortana will become available in India sooner rather than later. We already know that the digital assistant is coming to the UK this month, and that she has her eye on the Netherlands, and even China. But if this source is to believed Microsoft may be looking to expand Cortana into one of the world's biggest markets, India, and soon. Unfortunately there's no release date mentioned.  

Finally, Talderon claims Cortana will come to Xbox One and Windows 8.1 or newer. He also claims to have used it on the Xbox and said "it's very neat, especially when playing a Halo game". Now that sounds like a tongue-in-cheek response but we've seen previous signs that Microsoft is actively working to bring Cortana to other platforms and in most users' minds this was never a question of if but rather of when. Unfortunately there's no ETA on this.

With the launch of Windows Phone 8.1 later on this month, plus Cortana moving to the UK in the same timeframe, we'll just have to wait and see how much of this info pans out.

Source: Windows Phone Central | Second image via WPC

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I'm hoping Cortana will also soon be available in Germany.
I made the decision to switch from Android, because the whole operating system became more and more buggy. Also the implementation of the German language into features like Google Now was always a frustrating experience.
I have high hopes that Microsoft will do a much better job compared to what Google did!

I think Cortana in conjunction with Xbox One and particularly the Music app could really shine.

Whereas it is almost impossible for Cortana to sort out different scenarios and suggestions in a general sense for general subjects, the amount of usage data, how often a song has been played, which bands you listen to more often than others, ability to change track quickly and artists etc, lends itself to a massive amount of custom voice and gesture controlled interaction, AND conversational interaction.

They could really make Cortana "sing" :), in this department, the opportunity is there, just don't blow it.

Son_Of_Dad said,
How is India a priority? Seriously?

Because its one of the biggest market of WP, actually bigger than android in many places in India.

Son_Of_Dad said,
How is India a priority? Seriously?

And the award for clueless comment of the month goes to... ;)

As simrat said, India's population is huge and has one of the highest market share of Windows Phone in the world.

simrat said,

Because its one of the biggest market of WP, actually bigger than android in many places in India.

And MS need to throw features into markets where they aren't doing well if they want to compete by the time they get Cortana to the rest of the English speaking world (UK excluded) in 2015 by their own accounts, Google would have thrown their much vaster mobile resources into making Google Now do everything Cortana does and more.

If you have a market doing well (and unfortunately MS don't have many for WP) it gives you time.

TCLN Ryster said,

And the award for clueless comment of the month goes to... ;)

See my previous response. Thinking about such things might help you seem like less of a flog.

I don't care whether they bring Cortana or not, just let the rest of the features remain separate from Cortana as an option (like Quiet Hours and any upcoming features) - because I will never use Cortana.

Son_Of_Dad said,

See my previous response. Thinking about such things might help you seem like less of a flog.

I did think about such things, and I still think your comment is nonsense. Also, I've googled and I can't figure out what "a flog" is in the context of this conversation. Perhaps you'd care to explain it to me?

Insulting (I assume) name calling aside... It's sensible business practise to cater for your biggest markets first after your home market, especially true for one as large as India.

While wanting to gain new customers is important, looking after the ones you already have to prevent them from getting disillusioned and jumping ship to a competitor is paramount above that. Losing the support of the massive Indian market is not an option.

Looking forward to the future of Cortana, I have high hopes and its already delivering for me. Cant wait for it to come to xbox one to hopefully replace the "xbox - instruction" format. Having cortana know I'm on the xbox so reminders etc display/sound via my tv along with other 'intelligent' switching would be cool.

Possibly when I want to redeem a code on xbox, it could know I have cortana on my phone and send a signal to it, so my phone alerts me and brings the app up to scan the code. Or how about a Skype call coming through on xbox and cortana asking me if I'd rather have it on my phone (possibly rule based in cortana settings - if playing online game only show (allow list selection) certain alerts to come through to TV?

Thinking out loud here, but they could do some smart stuff with Kinect and cortana.

Another thing, you walk in the room and tell cortana to turn everything on (xbox/tv/av), it sees me (not wearing shorts) and signs me in and it already knows the weather "hey paul, its going to be sunny today, how about getting your chicken like legs out?" :)