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Does Cortana sound less robotic today?

Cortana

Cortana is a really fun and useful feature on Windows Phone 8.1. She’s still a few centuries away from being conversational like in the Halo video games, but we’re big fans! Cortana is currently in beta for those in the United States, though many of you are using her globally after changing your region. And as a beta, Cortana will continue to improve and get better. Today we're getting a lot comments that Cortana sounds different. Does she?

Head into our forums and you’ll see a lively discussion about Cortana’s voice. A lot of you are reporting that she sounds different today. Jen Taylor, the voice actress behind Cortana, is actively recording with Microsoft. As the beta continues, you’ll hear changes in Cortana as she sounds more and more natural. Today it seems like a rollout occurred on the backend.

Microsoft is working with Jen Taylor to provide more of those witty one-liners, but also adding her voice to the overall Cortana vocabulary. Since this is a beta you’ll notice changes in Cortana as you continue to use Windows Phone 8.1.

Speaking of those one-liners, it appears a few good ones have been added or missed by the community. That same forum thread points out some things you should ask Cortana that we haven’t seen before. Try saying some of the following:

  • Are you Jen Taylor?
  • Are you a Democrat or Republican?

Not only does Cortana sound less robotic, but how she serves up answers appears to have improved as well. Hockey fans were a little put off when she confused periods for quarters. It appears her sports knowledge has been updated. We tested by asking her "What's the Pittsburgh Penguins score" and she responded appropriately by telling us the current period and score. 

Anyways. Let us know if you think Cortana’s voice sounds a little more natural and less robotic. It does to us and she clearly responds with a higher level of intelligence for some questions. We're excited to see her knowledge grow and the service improve throughout the beta.  

Via: Windows Phone Central Forums

Thanks for the tip everyone! 

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Reader comments

Does Cortana sound less robotic today?

310 Comments

Nice for some, no Cortana in my neck of the woods. Why is that? Foogle and apple release everything world wide but MS really only supports the US where their WP market share is tanking.

Perhaps they're preparing for a better worldwide rollout than those two competitors had by tweaking it for a couple months first in one region?

Sort of true when Apple first put their Siri out it was only in USA . Now it rolls out to most but not all of the world as the updates added more languages. I am not sure about android

I noticed the sports questions too but she's been answering them since last week. I'll keep asking. Great to see them updating!

Markdotinc, thanks for reminding folks. I appreciate people's expectation of Cortana as though it should be on par with Siri and or Google Now, they constantly forget it is a beta on a developer preview window phone Os.

Yes!!! Yes she does!! I was thinking that.. And, she learned a few more smirky little lines... I was going to bring this up earlier...

WOW SHE DOES!  How did I not even notice this since I've been using her all day? LOL  LIke there's more of a bounce in her voice and it almost sounds like a new voice altogether.  Love you Jen <3

Actually some parts still sound robotic, like 2 different voices.  For example when I asked "Do I have anything planned this weekend?"... I hear Jen first, and then the robot voice.

That's because it uses Jen Taylor and the original robotic voice that we had before Cortana. Depends on what you're asking.

The stock part of the answer eg "You have planned for today" is probably Jen. Then any specific info eg "go to the zoo" is robotic. Probably will be for a while....till Jen records all words.

Even recording all words wouldn't be enough. The inflection wouldn't match between words if she didn't say the sentence all at once.

Some of these have already been known at launch. I remember one of the first ones I asked were "Where do you live" with a specific answer.

You know how she asks 3 times if you want her to read you your new text message? The third time she asked me with an attitude! :D

It's probably because part is a canned response and part is the data part of the response. One is static, one is generated.

There is actually a generic set of answers for anything that starts with 'Are you ...'. Similar to the set of answers for 'Would you ever do an AMA'.

I tried that too and it thought I asked if i was dropping Taylor. When I tried again and it picked me up correctly, it said "off all the questions you could ask."

Lol!! Yeah that's a new response.. Kinda funny..
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Has anyone noticed that Cortana gets a little louder, and bolder, if you don't answer her the first time?
For example, if she ask "do you want me to read the message?", and you don't reply, when she ask again she raises her voice the second time.. It's kinda weird like she's mad that she's not being answered, or somthing.. Send yourself a message, and try it out.

I noticed that her tone does change. She kinda got upset with me earlier when she had to keep repeating herself.. lol I can't remember what was going on because I wasn't really trying to pay too much attention at the time I was driving.. But I'll see if I can piss her off again.. lol

I think that in just a little time these reviews are going to have to start saying that Cortana is the most human like PA.. That's gonna make Cortana sound much better than the others, and give more credibility to WP.. This is good work by MS... It also shows why MS can't afford to have pot devices, like XBM, on WP...

Just say "Cortana"... They finally added this one.. This should be useful when were able to wake our phones by calling Cortana..

That's brand new too. She used to just say it normally... And that was when I checked in Sunday with that question ;)

It sounds awesome.. Maybe Monday they will add more.. I wonder what's coming to Cortana in future updates...❔❔❔

"The force is with you, young Skywalker. But, you are not a Jedi yet"... With a British accent..
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Why haven't you gotten 8.1?

Ow cool! Thanks!!
In canada, with HTC 8x. I know there is NO downgrade solution in case I run into issues with the update stability, unlike the downgrade solution Nokia offers for their phones . So I'm in for a long wait for the official update -_-

No, just go ahead and update now.. There's no major issues, barley any minor, with the developers preview.. After a month nobody has had any trouble.. I doubt if you will be the first... Go ahead and enjoy WP8.1,, you're seriously missing out... Update today❕
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Don't worry about your warranty.. Once the official update is ready for your device you'll just pick up where you left off with your warranty... Just update.

I have to delete my alarms every night and make new ones or they don't go off, which has the potential for making me late for work if I forget (I've forgotten twice already and luckily woke up naturally about 15 mintues after the alarm was supposed to go off).  I'd say that's a pretty good reason to hold off on an upgrade.

Also, sometimes the power button stops working and won't wake the phone and I have to do a reset.

Intesting (and frustrating) that it doesn't respond if you just say "may the force be with you".  You currently have to say "cortana, may..."   Of course just a few days ago fi you said Cortana before anything it did a web search.

 

Yeah, they added to it a bunch of prerecorded answers to a bunch of silly questions. Awesome . Now did they improve its usefulness as well?

My kids were taking to her tonight and I noticed a lot of her answers were not synthesized any more but instead they were Jen Taylor

I noticed this!!! Awesome, I was willing to overlook how robotic she sounded because she was so useful. This is just the icing on the cake, love that Microsoft is proactively improving and beefing up Cortana. She literally improves by the day. I love it!!!
Sounds great now, just as natural (perhaps even more so?) than Siri on iOS 7. Still a few robotic sounding queries here and there, but overall: Much improved!!!

Edit: Not as much updated as one would've originally hoped. Still, since they can update this on the backend on the fly, we should steadily see Cortana's voice become more natural.

Yes. As a matter of fact it does sound less robotic than it has in the past. It can only get better from here.

The metallic sound has gone. Sounds a bit more human. And oh BTW, when I asked her if she lives SIRI.. She becomes poetic... She says," I would not, could not in the rain. Not in the dark. Not on a train..

Yea she does sound more lively but when she reads out information's like say the score of a game, she would sound a bit robotic..overall one can easily notice improvements as she sounds more natural.

If you tell her to sing a song, she sings completely differently than she did before! She even sings different songs now. I'm impressed.

I asked Cortana what does she think about Steve Ballmer, she said "developers, developers, developers..." in a very different manner, sounded much natural this time :D

Her singing is much better. Her impressions have also improved greatly. She can also say baseball innings correctly now. I noticed the hockey fix last night when I was checking on the Ducks score

I'm drinking beer and so I asked her if she liked beer and I got a response, haven't seen that one yet I don't think... after doing another "do you like" question she responded again so there must be a few of those.

Sounds much more real tonight. I haven't used the voice feature since it came out though. Stopped using it because it sounded like a robot. I may have to start again.

I noticed this 2 days ago. I'm in Sacramento, CA. Just mentioning because the article says this happened today

I asked Cortana if she likes Ronald Ragen. She states: " Sorry Chief, with few exceptions, I don't form opinions"

Wow, great! It sounds more natural! The improvement it needed most! Not the Bluetooth experience even while using one with 4 mics, but the voice definitely holds priority in beta! Just awesome! Hey, at least it sounds more natural while reiterating my text & reminders incorrectly over and over while driving! Good stuff!

I've been messing around with it earlier after seeing a post about it but still got the same voice but I just tried it now and WHOA. Asked her to sing and she sang the usual "daisy, daisy..." but it was more energetic and well sung. Same for Danny Boy. Previously her voice when singing it hit a flat note on the last part but now it's great. Some stuff that was previously robotic TellMe voice is now also Jen Taylor for example Before if you asked "What do you think of Steve Ballmer" she would say "Developers, etc" and while still the same answer, it's now Jens voice. 

Be sure to ask "What does the fox say?" You'll enjoy the update to that one too.

After hearing Jens voice though, it's pretty disappointing to go back to the old one. I hope that they can just keep Jen in a booth for a long time. The TellMe voice is just so robotic and slow. 

Yass!! She puts emphasis in her jokes and everything else. It sounds like a real person the way she told me the reception dragged on, she said it like she was really telling a joke. And the fox question gives a much better answer. And omg ask her to do an impression now!!!

She definitely sounds less robotic. I asked "do you like chicken" and she responded "with questions like that, I'll say that I don't form opinions". Oh just asked what her favorite football team was and her answer was launch Cortana. So definitely work in progress. Good work though.

Yup, just tested her again and they indeed added stuff. Moreso, they re-recorded lines.

 

But in the end, this is all very cool but it will only be very cool for the US. Everyone else will always be left with a subpar experience in their regions. Unless they allow us to use Cortana in English even in a different region.

She said "my precious" the golum way and asked her again she said "expectum patronum" in a sexy way wahahahah

HAHA!

She does CRAZY impressions from Harry Potter, Lord of the RIngs, Minions!

 

Also, her "Beam me up Scotty" replies are hilarious now.

 

You say "a few centuries away" from being more conversational. I know that's just a nod to Halo's timeframe, but I think in actuality we're just a couple decades away from that.

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