First video of Windows Phone 8.1's Cortana digital assistant shows habit-learning features

Well, that didn't take long: The first video of Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant for Windows Phone 8.1 has leaked just a day after the first images of the feature were also leaked.

Posted by UnleashThePhones, the video shows the general appearance of Cortana as well as many of its capabilities. One aspect not revealed, however, is what Cortana will sound like. A recent rumor indicated Jen Taylor, the voice actress behind the Halo franchise's Cortana character that the digital assistant is named after, will lend her skills to the feature.

As seen in the video, Microsoft describes Cortana as "a personal assistant on your phone, ready to help with reminders, suggestions, tasks and lots more." Cortana will require a Microsoft Account to function, and it will warn users before it collects information such as locations, contacts and email for its intelligent learning habits.

Users can set "quiet hours" for Cortana, which will stop notifications from being sent. An "inner circle" can be created to allow certain contacts to bypass quiet hours, however, or a busy message can be sent in response. The video also shows how Cortana will learn a user's habits by allowing him or her to select the two "most enjoyable parts of your everyday evening." It will also learn a user's food choices by asking the two most important aspects of food, such as "what's healthiest" or "what's most delicious."

The video doesn't show any sort of vocal prompt to request Cortana's help; instead, users will just press a button to use the digital assistant with natural language. As indicated by recent reports, a long press of the search button will also activate Cortana.

Microsoft is expected to formally unveil Cortana alongside the rest of Windows Phone 8.1 at its Build 2014 conference next month.

Source: UnleashThePones | Image via UnleashThePhones

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43 Comments

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seems extremely boring. siri is useless, google now is basically spyware on steroids. I was wishing for something different but seems they basically cloned the google now idea...which they dismissed as cliche....

neonspark said,
seems extremely boring. siri is useless, google now is basically spyware on steroids. I was wishing for something different but seems they basically cloned the google now idea...which they dismissed as cliche....

How are you supposed to do a voice assistant differently, examples would be nice.

Microsoft should have shown it at MWC.

Now, they just lost the thunder. What a stupid mistake.
As is they would be able to control the leaks now that it's in outsiders hands.

Nope that would have been a big mistake with phones like all the flagship phones being announced that day. Its good that they'll do this on their own stage without any interruptions.

Anyone else notice the animated Cortana tile (spinning circle). I know some other system tiles animate a counter or change the smiley on the messaging tile but this seems like taking that to another level. Available for devs to use?

So they're keeping the Cortana name? Awesome! Interesting stuff, that learning bit.

but crap, that "loading..." thing is still there, and why do the metro buttons look different in Cortana from the rest of the OS? Gotta love Microsoft's level of consistency here..../s

EDIT: ah, look at the settings menu, that every growing illogically arranged list, definitely a high point of the video.

Don't get me wrong, but I don't think Microsoft should be patting itself on the back just yet. Also, yes I am going to complain about them giving us skinned tiles instead of backgrounds.

Can't wait for this! Less than a month away now, yay! I gotta figure out how to tell Cortana to call me, since my name only sounds like the English "chubby" or "shabby", neither of them positive adjectives

This is one of the more interesting features. I hope Cortana also syncs between devices. Would be nice to have her on the charmbar in Windows 8.

Ronnet said,
This is one of the more interesting features. I hope Cortana also syncs between devices. Would be nice to have her on the charmbar in Windows 8.

It should technically sync since it asks/needs you to use a Microsoft Account. So far since it's just on WP it might not sync from one WP to the other, or it might, we'll have to wait and see. When/If they bring it to Windows and XB then it'd have to sync in order to work correctly otherwise it'll have different notebooks for you on the different devices.

I think so too. I'm sure Cortana syncs with the clouds in preperation of taking over other Windows systems at one point. Hopefully she will not disappoint in terms of features and attitude.

When I can upgrade my phone next year, I don't what I'll go with. I've had an iphone 4 and 5, I came from android and wasn't a fan. I am curious about the windows phones. This is kind of neat.

Dane said,
When I can upgrade my phone next year, I don't what I'll go with. I've had an iphone 4 and 5, I came from android and wasn't a fan. I am curious about the windows phones. This is kind of neat.

I can tell you that my Lumia 920 is awesome without Cortana as well. I went from Xperia X1 to iPhone 3G to Motorola Droid 2 and finally found what I was looking for in Windows Phone (HTC Mozart as a starter).

Ronnet said,

I can tell you that my Lumia 920 is awesome without Cortana as well. I went from Xperia X1 to iPhone 3G to Motorola Droid 2 and finally found what I was looking for in Windows Phone (HTC Mozart as a starter).


Yeah a lot of people like their windows phone. I wonder what will be out next year.

Dane said,


Yeah a lot of people like their windows phone. I wonder what will be out next year.


My next phone is going to be a wp, either a lumia 1520 or hopefully a new ms wp.

i wonder what version build is the video using. Is that early in development? Or what we (the consumer) will be looking at???

Considering that //build is less than a month away and Cortana was finalized just last week, pointing towards the fact that this very well may be the latest build ready for sign off so I'm assuming this is what we'll be seeing on our phones.

PsYcHoKiLLa said,
Umm Did he not think of maybe demoing the voice search on that voice search app?
If it has to hit the cloud like Siri does, he'll essentially be telling MS which phone to brick. The other stuff can probably all be kept locally. Hell, maybe its not even connected to a cellular service or WiFi at the moment.

PsYcHoKiLLa said,
Umm Did he not think of maybe demoing the voice search on that voice search app?

I thought perhaps he didn't want his voice in the video... someone might recognize it.

Chikairo said,
If it has to hit the cloud like Siri does, he'll essentially be telling MS which phone to brick. The other stuff can probably all be kept locally. Hell, maybe its not even connected to a cellular service or WiFi at the moment.

Yet he had no problem providing scan quality fingerprints.

warwagon said,

Saying ok google activates google now.

Lol I thought some smartass would say that.

Your point is? Hotword <> Actualy Name. If I tell you "Hey you" and you turn around then your name is "Hey you"? I don't think so. My job here is done.

Congratulations, you win Pedant 2014!!

I know fine well what Google Now is thanks, since I use it. I meant I said "OK Google" and then "What does the fox say".

PsYcHoKiLLa said,
Congratulations, you win Pedant 2014!!

I know fine well what Google Now is thanks, since I use it. I meant I said "OK Google" and then "What does the fox say".

Your comment implies otherwise. Go read it again.