Cortana can now tell you the time worldwide and do currency conversions

As Microsoft continually improves their new Cortana voice-assistant, users are discovering more novice features every day. Recently, we covered all the new songs Cortana can either sing (or semi-sing), and today we are learning that she can now tell you the time or convert currencies.

Just by asking Cortana "What time is it?" and the assistant fetches you the present time. Although she does not yet read it out loud, making this new find slightly less useful. Actually, asking Cortana the current time itself is redundant since it likely your phone already has an up-to-date clock (especially since with Update 1, the OS can synchronize over Wi-Fi for the current time).

However, a more beneficial feature than asking Cortana the current time is asking Cortana the time elsewhere in the world. For instance, if I am here in the US and want to know what time it is in India or Berlin, Cortana grabs that information. We can think of a situation or two where this is useful (and even faster than maybe launching a world clock app).

Another handy feature you may not have known about is asking Cortana to convert your currency from one standard to another. For instance, if I ask Cortana "Convert $32 to UK pounds," she responds with the correct 19.25 Pounds Sterling, along with and up to date currency graph.

It is hard to tell when these things went live, and for some, it may be old news. Little things like these in and of themselves do not make or break Cortana, but over time, these features do add up to make a smart, intuitive assistant.

Thanks, tej, and others for the tips!


Reader comments

Cortana can now tell you the time worldwide and do currency conversions


She just needs to be able to set a timer and stopwatch, oh wait, the alarms app on WP only does alarms. So simple Microsoft, SO SIMPLE!!

Wp8.1 update 2 rumours out, with toggle mobile data in action center, setting can arranged with alphabetical or category order, Cortana to more countries with Alfa.

Now call me crazy, but I was thinking about starting a forum, on expected and requested GDR2 Features. And the settings one was the top thing on my mind!

+925 For things like this, Cortana needs to say it. Chances are, if I am asking Cortana for information it is because I don't want to dig my phone out of my pocket and stop to read the screen.

Like yourself many of our clients and our-self are waiting for UK version to be publicly released however first they have to release the US based features in Bing as that's what drives it, hope they do this same time as Cortana's public release otherwise it would be half job done.  We have US guest staying with us who's just bought a Nokia Lumia 625 and you can Bing "how many calories in a banana" which it responds to however UK Bing just provides links.

That's pretty amazing Cortana. Now, tell me, where can I find a sniper rifle?

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Not really weird. Features for Cortana, while in Beta, are pushed out in groups to users. Every time we mention new features, there are always groups of users who do not get it for weeks, until the servers all refresh and push it out.

Sometimes, there are also back end issues in getting the feature on some devices, e.g. it took a long time for my email-scanning of flights to take hold.

Some of these could be old, but for many, they do not even know Cortana has these abilities.

Even earlier, they were part of WP's Bing for a long time. Possibly even a year. They were announced here when they launched.

I noticed the currency conversion long time ago because I'm crossing the US-Mexico border twice a month, also when I ask for weather by default is Farenheit and after I receive the response I just ask "In Celcius?" cortana makes the conversion, try it.

On WP8.1 Before the GDR1 Cortana was amazing and was scanning also the WEBSITES, during a trip I checked the Breaking Bad Tour on Wikitravel http://wikitravel.org/en/Breaking_Bad_Tour all location addresses were highlighted and you can "Tap to Navigate" a unique feature on WP not available on Android or iOS and is working on the ENTIRE WEB! but works only without the update1, works on my wifes htc 8x that has not been updated... also any date/time/days works with "tap to add to calendar", I miss those amazing features on the web.

In the UK on UK Cortana. The currency converter has worked pretty much since it was released, the world clock? Not sure either.

I'm not sure what you are asking for. Do you want MS to fix the bit locker problem for Dev Preview 8.1? Our do you object to the Dev Preview program itself? Our something else? Just asking. Thanks.

They have supposedly fixed the bit locker problem and hence the Dev Preview. Now, just waiting on the carriers as usual. Also depends upon region. My understanding is with the next version of Windows/RT/WP the OS will be separated from the carriers and more frequent and global updates will be a reality. Let's hope so. It gets tiresome and I recently saw an article that bemoaned the "fragmentation" of WP. This is not the divide between 8.0 and 7.x This is the fragmentation of 8.1, including the most recent update. This is not something we should be worrying about.

If they had it why my notification of update is not there,I am not a bit locker user . They have solve the case for some regions but yet for India. The sooner it is solved the capabilities will be proven . Please clear your misconception

It's not so easy to get the update notification, Microsoft is still busy in providing this notification to many dev users, those who are impatient enough, they downgrade phone with Nokia tool,I shall not do that as cyan is not a big update. But Microsoft is yet to solve the issue

Cortana just needs voice activation now. Like something we can do when we put the lock screen on. No need to go to the Bing search engine for Cortana activation.

Not a surprise .. it was beta for US, but everyone did the settings trick and got it. Voice recognition needs learning to get better. But when the teacher's mother language is not English, you can't expect perfect results :)

Would be much better if it was Celsius by default, so we wouldn't need to ask her to convert every single time.

Doesn't sound like something difficult to implement.

I know but in the meantime you have a solution and is contextual because its checking for the previous question/answer, just say "in celsius", not the long question again. I agree that needs to be solved, I just trying to give you a tip...

Great! I was under the impression that it already does this ... Since TellMe can do it too .... Still great though!

If only my unlocked Lumia AT&T 920 could get the Cyan update I would be enjoying so many fun features and apps, Fitbit, Cortana, folders, transparency tiles, and on and on and on. Patience is a virtue.

Come on send her faster to India... We are waiting to recieve her delightful services.. Its now only in alpha and then beta then ganna and God knows how many more.. I'm just becoming impatient..

Actually, it's the other way around. It's beta and when it becomes alpha, it means the alpha product is the final release.

Don't expand Cortana; increase her availability! As it is, 90 % of WP users are indifferent to Cortana's new tricks, because she's not available. Use your energy to get her out there, or all your efforts don't matter..,!

Crazy comment. The expansion of Cortana is just as important as the work on the regions. As well, the more regions she comes to, the better the ability to expand. One thing I did notice when I reset my phone. She could not find my information any longer. Solution? Log into Bing on your PC. Bam. She updated instantly, so there is more to Cortana than simply the phone interface. I do understand the impatience. It will be interesting to see all that time and effort into porting her to China down the drain as hey try to oust MS completely. By the way, my spell checker has updated Cortana every time to Fortuna. Carl Off would be proud.

As you suspected, this has been available for a while. It's more of a Bing thing than a Cortana thing since this works on Bing.com too.

The currency version is useful...when it works. She has trouble understanding the figure sometimes (too often) for example I asked her to "convert $1400 into pounds" and she hears it as "convert one thousand $400 into pounds". Frustrating sometimes.

By the way guys... Can anyone help me with some must need apps specially for the Lumia cyan.. I mean for Wp 8.1 ... Cause I have just updated mah Lumia 525..

You guys probably know this already but she'll answer if you ask a countries population, currency, official language, capital and other little things about each country. Never tried until just now but it is kind of neat. Well, it works in the U.S. at least. Even told me the state bird and motto for the states.

This isn't useful yet; the reason we asked for Cortana to give the time is so we can ask her the time from a bluetooth headset without needing to get out the phone. Hopefully a voice response in in the works.

Right, same here. I was initially quite disappointed Cortana can't handle this simplest of questions. I wanted to be able to ask the time while I was cycling, something I was able to do with Windows Mobile for petes sake.

Luckily unlike Siri or gn Cortana is upgradeable via 3rd party app. They're are quite a few apps in the store that do this. I think 'What Time' works best.

Making Cortana programmable like this is going to be HUGE if developers take advantage.

The "Set date and time automatically" option does not work even in Update 1. Change the date or time on your phone and try turning this option ON. No synchronization takes place whatsoever.

They really need to fix the Alarms.

Ever since 8.1 DP, alarms have been really low volume regardless of individual sound settings at max.

Also, being stuck with the default alarm sound for setting alarms with Cortana sucks so much that it's unusable.

Well it could be useful if she can read it out loud through Bluetooth headset, no need to take the phone out of my pocket when im on my bike, skateboard, snowboard....etc im still waiting for this feature !!!

^ I NEED THIS. Hate it when people keep saying "why should she be able to read the time when your phone is already out." . Of course I can see the time when my phone is out. I need her to read the time when my phone is in my pocket. Via Bluetooth. When i'm driving my bike for hours at an end. Come on....

Driving mode does this. Connect your phone with Bluetooth and she says you have a text message, should I read it or ignore it? Then you say read it...and you can even reply. Without touching your phone !

We're just talking about telling you the time. Cortana will give other answers with voice, which is part of Bluetooth (not driving mode; it works with headsets too). It would be cool to ask her the time without getting the phone out.

Yea saw the currency conversion rates late last week... Thought it was a normal part of Cortana... Nice to see this update.

So Cortana kept showing me the current time in Washington D.C. instead of where I am and Indian rupees instead of Indonesian rupiahs. I feel left out.

This is a feature of Bing and not Cortana.. The results are returned by the Bing web search when Cortana does a web search for it.. They are not integrated into Cortana at least as of now.. And that is the reason why she is not reading it loud..

Cortana has been able to show the local time when asked for the the time for a very long time.  At least this part isn't new.

Responding by voice would be very helpful.   Consider when using a headset... you wouldn't have to pull the phone out of your pocket to read the result.

Cortana drains all my battery. Otherwise I find her above Siri and Google Now services. I need a bigger...battery on my NL620 to match her energy needs

I tell you one thing I REALLY wish for. It's the ability to sign two names, over for Speach and one for automatic responses. It's not that I want it to call me "Master Chief" in private, but user my real name when telling people my phone is in quiet mode. I have a common name with a 'hard' "t" in the middle, but Cortana insists on pronouncing it as I'd it were a "d". The only way to get it to sari my name properly is to misspell my name with a double 'tt' instead.

Some choice: Mispronounce OR misspell.

I think she's great via Bluetooth! I can answer calls, play, pause, skip tracks, speech text, everything with Cortana! Got the Xbox 360 Bluetooth headset, works an absolute dream

So I need to buy a Xbox Bluetooth earpiece? I've tried 3-4 different types and the whisper is the best, but Cortana still frustrates me to the point Im ready to throw my phone out of the car window.

Maybe I don't know. It works 100% for me though. I hold down the answer call button and its the equivalent of holding down the search button on your phone. Hold it down and the cortana sound plays, then you can do anything. Its the complete opposite, I look forward to driving so that I can seamlessly use cortana while driving. Driving mode is great too as any texts you get, it can send an automatic reply, or you can get cortana to read it. Same with phone calls.

Yeah, I do all that, but she still says "sorry, I didn't get that" when replying to a text or sending a text. Even when I extend the mic bar to have 4 mics she still doesn't work. I have to keep restarting my phone then she works. I can't have a continuous conversation via text by voice, she just starts messing up.

Oh no, sounds like there's a problem with the microphone maybe? I'm no expert though. I can vouch for the xbox 360 Bluetooth headset though and it working well with a Lumia icon.

My phone without Cyan garbles the voice channel enough that she can only sometimes hear me (over headset or car BT). Before 8.1 DP, BT voice commands on my LG Tone worked fine though (as long as the vent isn't blowing on the microphone), and I'm hoping Cyan restores that.

I downgraded to 8.0, just for the experience, and cyan didn't improve my Bluetooth experience, at all. You might have a different experience.

Do the voice commands work without a Bluetooth headset connected? If it only garbles it while using the car or a headset, then your problem may be the headset microphone or car microphone.

When I power down then up again Cortana works fine. After responding 3 times in row to a text all of a sudden she doesn't understand me. Nothing in the environment changes either. I just excepted the fact "Cortana sucks via Bluetooth" just like no matter how high I boost my internet package my connection to the COD servicers is garbage.

Oh man that does suck. Sounds like its a headset issue though if Cortana works without one connected. Worth trying the 360 one.

I'll try it. Already went through 4 headsets. Thinking about the Voyage headset. If that's what it's called. Big as heck, but if it works it works.

I've been asking her for currency conversions since day one, you can even ask "what is cocaine" and she will give you a science lesson about it

The conversion never really worked for me when speaking. I can write "convert 200 usd to czk" and it will work. But it will never get it when I speak it, it does not get the "czk" part, trying "Czech crowns" will end with Bing search. I guess my pronunciation of "see zee khay" is not good enough :)

EDIT: I tried just again and got "Convert 200 USD into city gay" ...tall order :-)

I asked 10 times. But she fails to convert ₹1000/- to u.s.d
you can only do it by typing"convert rupees thousand in American dollars"

The feature I wanna see is to be able to wake up Cortana without grabing my phone. Imagine when you are in bed and wanna set the alarm or maybe send a text message but the phone is far from you how useful it would be to say something like wake up Cortana or turn on Cortana. 

Australian Alpha can't do currency conversion which is silly. There's no reason to leave this feature out.

So, I just use the National Australia Bank app for that instead.

"...Actually, asking Cortana the current time itself is redundant ..."


Unless you are using a Bluetooth headset/device and the phone is not visible.


There should be even more Cortana commands that are focused around a user on BlueTooth or talking with Cortana when they cannot see the screen.

For Example:  Cortanta
-Ring my Phone (when the phone is missing but you have trusty bluetooth on.)
-Lock my Screen
-What time is it?
-Take a Picture
-Start Recording Video
-Start Recording Audio
-Type this. (Cortana should type whatever you say into any text box.) 
-Type My IP Address (She should also be able to get information and then type it in for the user.)
-Type My Name (The information should come from both Bing results and our Notebook.) 
-Type My Email Address (The information should also come from our MS Account that we associate with the phone. It is odd that the Me Tile doesn't give us direct access to our own contact information.)


Also other little features that just miss the mark of being more impressive because some myopic developer didn't see a need.  (There are a lot of  Bing responses that she should read, if you are asking by voice, or at least give the users to have to read when on headset, like the text messaging hands free feature works.)


I also hate that "What is my IP Address" works, but she doesn't read it and it can't be copied. 


You mean she sounds more posh? :eck:..

I don't know why but that voice just makes me cringe, I have dealt with incredibly posh tenants and landlords yet I never had a problem. However everytime I hear Cortana speak in that posh voice.. just causes an adverse reaction lol...

Still waiting on them to decouple Quiet Hours from Cortana, especially since the 8.1 update killed the Quiet Hours Apps that worked in 8.0.

Why what should be a basic OS feature is baked into something only select Countries have is beyond me.


How is it so many people don't know there are apps in the store that allow Cortana to read time through headset (search "Cortana time")? I hope Daniel can do a write-up on some of the Cortana plug-in apps available. Some of them are kinda lifesaving.

Mmm... No time in the UK, but then again you see the clock as you ask!

Currency conversion works though :)

UpdateIMO, Cortana should say the time as well as show it on the screen. The are many times when I have ear buds in and my 1520 in my pocket. I should be able to ask Cortana through the headphone mic and her tell me through the headphones. Shouldn't be that difficult really. Otherwise what use is this feature, other than other time zones.
Update- just saw other post about this. Thanks WPC community!

Mine just bing searches and comes up with XE? Pretty useless.


I also don't know why when I'm listening to music from Xbox Music, and I ask "what song is this", it starts bloody listening to the song to work it out instead of just telling me. My iPhone 3G-S could do that, as well as tell me the time.

Old news. These two have been useful to me, I was traveling and it was a really good thing to be able to see the time in my country. Also used the currency conversion some times

Have been waiting to see the new update from Microsoft that wow me, sigh nothing impressed me for the past 2 years as a WP user started from Lumia 710->Lumia 920. My Lumia 920 cannot beat my Lenovo 930 (Android) which is cheaper than L920.  As a hardcore user I need a compiler on my phone, I need macro script that can run specific programming on my phone, I need to run Web Server Apache on my phone, I need to run many productivity apps and my Android Lenovo 930 fulfill everything.

    I enjoy news like this because the more useful/integrated Cortana becomes, the less likely it is that Microsoft will sell Bing.

Cortana...cortana...cortana... I dont even see Cortana comes to Malaysia. Ive change the region settings, keyboard & speech to Us but NO luck.... Common MS... U can do better!

Cortana can't understand the difference between "Colombia" and "Columbia". If I ask "What's the time in Colombia?", making a clear "o" sound for the second o, I get the time in Columbia, USA, every single time, no matter how carefully I say it. If I say "What's the time in Bogotá, Colombia?", she gives me the right answer. I guess she still needs some internationalization.

I can't Get cortana on my Lumia 1020 Why I Get just "Speech" I Want Cortana on my 1020 
I Have windows Phone 8.1
How Get Cortana ??

HEY MICROSOFT !!!  Some people are blind.  My wife would like to have her Windows phone report the time upon request.  Please add the appropriate command....