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Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 gets privacy prioritized with ‘Notebook’ feature

With Windows Phone 8.1 only five weeks out, there’s not too much left to revealed, except one big feature: Cortana.

The digital voice assistant to rival Apple’s Siri and Google’s Now service is expected to premier with Windows Phone 8.1, and while a few facts have leaked out so far, the Verge has now gone into more detail about Cortana, including its Notebook core.

According to the Verge's Tom Warren, Cortana will have a ‘Notebook feature’ that stores “location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information”, but only as the user allows. This is to ensure that privacy takes priority over efficiency of the assistant, meaning Cortana won’t collect, store or use information about you without your consent. Indeed, information can reportedly be edited or even deleted later by the user.

That’s certainly throwing down the gauntlet against Google, who don’t have such restrictions or control on Android.

Other details about Cortana confirm our earlier report about it having a “personality”, represented as a bouncing ball with emotions to reflect current inquiries. From our earlier report, we heard Cortana described like this:

“The personality of Cortana is currently represented by a circle graphic that expresses what it's doing (searching, identifying music à la the current Bing music listener built into Windows Phone, etc.) by various animations like spinning, flipping, etc.  …more animations [have] come in over time, and the color is based on your theme color.”

Regarding some behavior, the Verge notes that Cortana will offer “guidance on weather, stocks, directions, appointments, and music that’s contextual based on location and other data”. Likewise, it is also confirmed that Cortana will act upon incoming messages, email and other alerts, offering to lend assistance.  This feature was described to us earlier by a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans:

“For example, let's say I send you an SMS that says like "Want to get dinner tomorrow in Seattle?" You'll see parts of that text message underlined. Click that and you'll be able to instantly enter the info into your calendar with some of those fields already populated. So it would fill "Seattle" as the location, if I had said a time it will already have the time there.”

Finally, the Verge also reveals a very useful feature for your favorite acquaintances

“An "inner circle" of contacts will allow Cortana to manage notifications and phone calls during "quiet hours" when notifications are muted.”

Powered by Bing and Foursquare – amongst the initial services – Cortana as introduced in April will be just the beginning of this new Microsoft tool. From that point, Redmond will have to expand Cortana to other areas, including Windows 8, Xbox, in addition to adding services or improving contextual search and behaviors.

Regarding the name, currently the beta SDK only refers to the function as ‘Cortana’. But as unearthed in the MUI strings for voice commands, users will actually be able to name their voice assistant, making the matter a bit moot for the average consumer.

Windows Phone 8.1 will reportedly be revealed during Build on April 2.

Source: The Verge

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Reader comments

Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 gets privacy prioritized with ‘Notebook’ feature

217 Comments

Riiiight... Because the USA is known for human rights violations on par with most police states... Give me a break. And stop toting around that tin foil hat.

Ya... because the US would never throw people into make-shift internment camps based upon race, or act against certain religious or a-religious groups unfairly, or act against its own people as a way to justify going into war...

Sure, we are not as bad as the liberal left would like us to think we are... but at the same time we have done some pretty awful things in the past. As technology grows so much faster than society's maturity it only means that potential dark days of the future will only be more efficient at carrying out horrible ideas. Hopefully we would never do anything so horrible to our own people, but let's at least not make it easy.

Actually, as a card-carrying member of the "liberal left" I must say, the government has turned out to be quite a bit worse than my ilk imagined.

But I'm not a part of any racial or religious group they would target. So, it's probably pretty safe to let cortana track me.  The real worry for me would be someone hacking into the database and using the info to steal from me.

Not saying anything about Cortana tracking, but specificly to your comment:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Pastor Martin Niemöller

I work for DoD, and I can tell you that I don't trust the government.  When you see how the sausage is made.....

Such ignorance. It is completely irrelevant, to the privacy discussion, how 'clean' you are.

I am glad to see Microsoft's continued efforts to protect user privacy. I could not care less about goverment using my data, they have most of it anyway, but I do care about corporations making money off of my personal data, by selling it to whomever they like, and jamming adverts and spam down my throat.

 

 

 

+1. That's my only concern and youhearmeroar said it right. I don't give a damn if the government knows I order my beans from Tesco. But I don't want Microsoft to recommend me iBeans that are £5 expensive per can but are licked by Siri.

I think people in the UK care less about the government using our data. Probably cos we're used to being monitored all the time. I personally don't really see the fuss about it.

No matter how "clean" you are, you innocently search for a bomberman game or jägerbomb cocktail, just expect a knock at the door :P

Well, Siri was right on a number of occasions. For instance: "What is the best smartphone?" Siri: "Nokia Lumia 920" #priceless (remember that one?)

Yes they did! I remember tricking my IOS friends into doing that! Now I think it just gives a generic "choose your own adventure" answer.

That smacks of anti-competition to me. Will they patch all questions related to product categories they play in? :)

Nope.. Cortana detects when u r in the examination hall from your calendar and date and time settings and shows u the tongue before turning off completely.

First!  Cortana, show me the money!  Amazing feature, I hate the fact that Google Voice will have to know everything I do, thank god Cortana doesn't need to know what adult films I watch.

More like at least fourth ... are 'first' comments making a comeback on WP Central? I thought they had died a deserved death.

Good move, to prioritize privacy is important and quite the opposite of some other actors which name should never be mentioned...

This is very awesome to hear, but now I'm afraid there will be little new information at Build and people will say that Windows Phone 8.1 is "nothing exciting, or new" since they heard all the features weeks beforehand.

There may not be "new" information, but if they release 8.1 @ Build, complete with Cortana and a full SDK, that'd be enough, i'm sure, to make up for the lack in new information. Plus, seeing Cortana in action, along with Smart Search, will be new, and those are probably the two biggest features.

That moment when Joe Belfiore shows all of the features during the demo on stage, there will be enough exciting response, trust me ;)

To see everything come together at BUILD will be news itself. The leaks have all been positively received, but everyone wants to see it in action. Hopefully there will be new partnerships, apps, and features to surprise us.

I can't wait. \( ^〇^ )/

 

I really like the current TellMe, but this looks like it could blow current assistants out of the water (and into next year)! I really hope it's as good as it is to be believed once it's launched with Windows Phone 8.1!

I bet Joe B. is under pressure already. Things will freeze on stage, he will change phones and that will make the headlines. Not that WP is now on par with others and its no more catching up.

i wish people would just stop with that irrelevant comment. can you please name an alternative on windows phone for me? or are you telling me to use an iphone or android phone instead?  i would very much like a digital assistant for windows phone, just leave the personality out.

Could you further explain the problem with Cortana having a personality? I don't see how it effects your use of the service.

it would "affect" my use because i would find it annoying. however, as it is still a while from release, i guess that remains to be seen.

Would you rather listen to a robotic monotone voice talking back to you all day, or something that is more natural. I don't know about you but I'll take the second option :)

How do you imagine an AI service? Honestly with a non-argumentative tone, I can't really imagine it without a personality

I'm looking forward to hearing how well she will clash with Croatian language, not unlike the current speech lady residing in my phone. :) It's a real treat listening to her trying to pronounce some contact's name, for example my cousin's last name, Rakigjija. Providing, of course, Microsoft releases Cortana to all, with the big caveat "Cortana speaks English, don't rape her with your heathen Slavic guttural sounds!" :D

So no details yet on when or whether it will be available worldwide or restricted to ,ahem,certain locations for now ?

You can make a good guess though.. My bet is on just USA release to start, then a year or two later we will start to see other regions aha... Same sort of thing happened with Xbox 360 Kinect voice. I'll be changing my region to US when Cortana is released.

Mine does, I'm in little old New Zealand and I get local deals for places even next door. I get cinema times for Auckland theatres, I get New Zealand web search results. Everything but Local Scout, really.

From NZ also, I believe there are a couple of extra things that you miss out on I believe. I'm mainly concerned about Cortana. Definitely changing region for that.

They make is US and Uk only and I'm done. I'm from the uk but live in nz. They always forget that people MOVE.,let me set me language and have the feature. Already got a crippled xbone grrr

Stocks--that should be interesting.  Bouncing around, flips, etc---reminds me of a paper clip in MS office that I once hated---what was it called--clipply?

I feel bad for all those bb10 users who had their pornographic exploits published to all their friends unknowingly..josh is watching sexy Asian man bukake lol

That would be awesome and a little bit creepy.
"Cortana, I'm feeling horny."
"Well, Chief, there are 3627 new videos on youporn.com this week. Here is an amateur bondage video I think you might enjoy. Shall I load it up for you?"
-a few minutes later in the middle of the video-
"Wow, he is really putting it to her isn't he, Chief?"

Finally. This should would really bring Windows Phone on par with iOS 7 and Google Now. This is exactly what they already do. Hopefully Cortana can tell when I need to leave home or how traffic is on the way to work like iOS and Google Now.

I would love to hear people reasons for not giving WP a chance now.

Mostly just specific apps is the big holdup for many.  That we know is continually improving.  And as the line for development blurs between W8/WP8 for the stores, the 3 screens/cloud foundation will really help propel the Windows platform as a compelling mobile ecosystem to many users.

Im gonna call her Mollie hahaha lol... But joking aside this is really good information and can't wait to 'see' it in action

Allowing users to name the assistant makes so much sense and is so appealing. If we can pick amalve voice mine will have to be either Jeeves or Carston.

Haha I might have to steal your idea there... If this naming thing is true, I was going to just call it Cortana for the novelty. However, with a male voice, Jeeves would be hilarious. "Jeeves, remind me I have a meeting later this evening"

I use a UK English voice for all my navigation apps and devices. It makes the voice prompts much easier to hear in a noisy US-based vehicle. I'd give Australian English a try if available. "Turn left now, mate!"

Lol! I'd prefer UK as well, being a New Zealander. But not sure if it's going to be available in UK language on release. At least we know US will work.

I can't wait to see how Cortana will operate. I actually use the TellMe feature, so I'm a bit excited to see what features will be added.

A feature I think that would go even further with 'Cortana' offering assitance with incoming texts/emails, would be to suggest places for the said food or activity type in the SMS. For example, if I sent a text to a friend, "How about sushi tonight around 7PM?" Underlined words would be sushi, tonight and 7PM.

Clicking on sushi would bring up a list of apps (HERE City Lens, Bing Food and Drink, etc.) to search for local sushi places. Clicking on either tonight or 7PM would bring up the calendar entry and if possible as an option, send the calendar/text reminder to my friend.

And of course, having this type of assistance across all Windows powered devices is the ideal solution but I'm certain that by Windows 9 or 10, we could see this come to life.

Good for you guys. Just make sure you pick a beach that's on the Gulf coast side versus the Atlantic and avoid Cocoa. :-)

We'll be in St Pete for five days, then a few days with friends that live in Lake Placid. Nice getaway from the snowpocalypse we had in Atlanta last week and two weeks before that. ;-)

Oh, last time I was in Cocoa was when I was stationed in Orlando while in US Naval Nuclear Power School. Used to go out that way on the weekends we were broke, because we could find something to do and do to Patrick AFB and eat lunch free. LOL we were such dweebs...

Any mention about Cortana using natural conversation and context? For example with siri you can ask about the weather in another city and then follow up with the question..."what about tomorrow?" and siri will know you are still asking about the weather in the city you already asked about.

We are still lacking behind.They should hurry up with those updates. We are still playing catch up. We are going to get this update in two three months ahead,within those months Apple and Google will bring something very new and we will still lack behind. Microsoft should lead the innovation, not follow the innovation. They should have release all these features a year ago.

Everytime I read a post about WP 8.1 I feel like I can finally go tell all my friends, that are IOS and Android fanboys, to go suck it! I'm tired of them hating on WP.

Well I'm happy for you, no sacasm intended. Personally I just wouldn't be able to handle the screen quality, RAM, screen size and body thickness/shape. But that's my opinion :)

Sounds unlikely at the moment... Rumors are saying Cortana will be accessed by the search button. Not too economical to have the mic on all the time anyway

I know the nexus 5 does the same thing, but yeah then anyone could just yell out "Okay Google" or whatever the prompt is. I mean I pretty much agree though, it would be neat. I would definitely use it like that. Just don't think it's likely.

That's actually not true. You can train it for your voice and it will only answer to your voice. It actually works.

Saw it with my own eyes. My friend with an Asian accent was able to activate and search for porn on my friend's (with an Indian accent) nexus.

I want my Cortana to respond only when I touch her. That's how intimate we want to me. Not just casual like "Okay Cortana.."

Congratulations to you who speaks English natively. For the rest of the world this feature is useless. I would be as exited as you if Cortana spoke Swedish..

Then encourage a Swedish company to lead the way and develop an operating system that catches on in the rest of the world, and starts with Sweden first apps and content.  Tack så mycket!

Btw if you guys search on YouTube "windows phone 8.1" and filter the results to this month, a user seems to have almost exactly what the verge said, a ball that mathes accent color that bounces. I'll try to add the link. Update: http://youtu.be/pO1Fs09PEec

That says 'concept video'. It's not real. Cortana is meant to be a small circular emoticon (about the size of the buttons on your app bar) at the top right of the screen.

The real giveaway is that he plans to catch the next train, which leaves in 12 minutes. Yet the map shows he won't make it in 12 minutes.

Will this be native to the OS or an app like Ziggy?  I don't use ziggy because I have to launch it as an app if I want to use it.

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