Cortana Windows Phone 81

First look at Cortana in action on Windows Phone 8.1 (Video)

Microsoft’s is introducing Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1. Out of all the new features in Windows Phone 8.1 it’s the one we’re most excited about. As you probably know, Cortana is the forthcoming intelligent personal assistant that will debut in Windows Phone 8.1, but probably seep into other Microsoft products like Windows 8 and Xbox One. We’ve seen screenshots of the UI before, but the video below is the first time the public is seeing it for the first time.

Here is what Cortana asks during the setup process:

  • What name would you like me to call you?
  • What are a couple of the most enjoyable parts of your everyday evenings? Pick two: Cooking something, Going out, Hanging out with friends, Spending time with family, I go to work at night, Watching something
  • When you think about food, what’s most important to you these days? Pick two: What’s Healthiest, What’s most delicious, What’s least expensive, What’s easiest, That some else is making it, I don’t think about food
  • What are two of your main motivations for going out to an event or activity? Learning something, Enjoying quality entertainment, Improving myself, Celebrating, Relaxing and unwinding, Pampering myself
  • When you want to catch up on what’s going on in the world, which section do you go to first? Style, Travel, Sports, Arts & Leisure, Business, Headlines
  • What can I help you with? Try “Find recipes for ants on a log”

Quiet Hours

In addition to Cortana, Quiet hours for controlling alerts and notifications was revealed under Settings. The follow are the options observed in the video:

  • Right now: During quiet hours, Cortana handles your calls and texts and silences other notifications. You can turn it on and off when you like, or set it to turn on automatically

Allowed during quiet hours

  • Allow anyone through if they call 2 times in 3 minutes
  • Always allow inner circle

Text notifications

  • Always allow inner circle
  • Ask senders: notify anyway?
  • Don’t allow text notifications
  • Text that I’m busy right now to contacts who are allowed through

Few observations. It's still named Cortana at the moment, though we wouldn't be surprised to see that not be the final name. However, it is looking very likely.  Also, Cortana’s UI is based off whatever system color you’re using on your Start screen. In this case green. It was also probably a smart move for the leaker to not sign in with a Microsoft Account or ask any legitimate questions to Cortana. It probably wouldn’t be too hard for Microsoft to track down the phone if they did sign in or ask questions.

At this time there is still no confirmation about the voice and whether it will be Jen Taylor or not.

Source: UnleashThePHones; Thanks, Brett L., for the tip!


Reader comments

First look at Cortana in action on Windows Phone 8.1 (Video)



How does this guy, Yash Maheshwari, get away with showing all this?  Just curious as to who he is exactly.

And dude, if you're going to show this much, show it all off. Let us see it in action.

I thought the SDK that was out didn't have this on it. And if you're going to break an NDA might as well let us hear the.voice

I dont think you read the whole article "It was also probably a smart move for the leaker to not sign in with a Microsoft Account or ask any legitimate questions to Cortana. It probably wouldn’t be too hard for Microsoft to track down the phone if they did sign in or ask questions."

He did sign in. Notice the video stopped because he had to sign in and was not going to show his account/password to the world.

He didnt have to speak. There was the part where Cortona would speak the name out he typed. He skipped that part. If this isnt a controlled leak, just show the damn thing off. I would. If you're going to break NDA, then go all the way with it. Dont half ass.

Yep,vid pause's then you see a email notification pop up when the vid resumes.Probably to verify he's sign in.

Maybe Microsoft is just not as bitchy as Apple when it comes to leaks...  Not sure how this guy got this installed on a phone though... A different video/past article could have explained, but I don't recall.

This is one of those leaks where a company pretends it was unsanctioned so that the buzz it generates has more impact. This makes it a lot less likely to not get dismissed as pre-manufactured marketing hype.

I doubt it's difficult for relevant parties to track the leak to the source. So we wouldn't be seeing these leaks if employees were afraid of losing their jobs. A disgruntled employee is not going to reveal something positive like this.

No that does not generate buzz. it is a one off read of an article and pseudo-demo that offers nothing new nor anything intriging.. Buzz is generated by showing something that grabs attention or inspires interest. What was presented here that you couldnt read in a more informative article that explains features, etc.? All this shows is that if you tap the screen it will respond. Now there is an earth shattering revelation....

Gees you need to lay off the crack man. I suppose we didn't land on the moon, and Kennedy was shot by government spooks?

This terrible half baked crummy video is certainly not how they would tease to build hype. It doesn't even demo the product really.

I wouldn't be surprise if large organizations like Microsoft have designated "leakers" so that they can trial balloon features, UI components, etc. 

Like the name Cortana.   Maybe they didn't know how people would respond, so you leak the name.  Now, with everyone loving it, they may make it official. If the name Cortana bombed, then they could say that it was just a code name, and they never planned on calling it that.

Maybe not, but not a crazy idea either.

blimey another conspiracy theorist. Where do you guys come from?

Stop smoking weed man, its messing with your mind.


am i the only one who is annoyed by his intro in every one of his videos? I mean his channel isn't about entertainment/show, yet his intro speaks otherwise. arghhhh

A very very interesting thing that nobody see is that the tile is TRUE LIVE TILE! is always moving the circle of Cortana. 


Live tiles nowadays can´t do that movement. 

And the pictures live tile pans through pictures, and the music and game live tiles have their own unique animations. Even if Cortana has animations, it does not mean that it is a new feature, or that we will see it coming out on 3rd party apps.

On the one hand I would love to have these kinds of motion tiles on 3rd party apps... but then again many app developers would probably do it wrong and break things, so perhaps it is best not to have it for now.

But Cortana live tile isn't like music and games tile, it has the theme color, and is only the icon with movement. I hope that Microsoft allow to do that to all apps, because I prefer to see the weather live tile with clouds moving, than the actual static photo tiles.

Can't believe no one has brought this up yet but if the voice assistance is a long press of the search button, what would be the function of long pressing the windows button?

All of you assume he's not letting it speak, but in reality its possible that she is speech less server wise for now, meaning its relying on Bing for now and voice interactions are not accessible.

Yeah, that video was extremely underwhelming. It would have been nicer to hear her and see how she handles/reaponds to questions.

Patience guys. This stuff isn't even supposed to be shown yet. We gotta take what we can get for now.

take what we can get for now? nah, the video really is pretty useless. I am in the same exact state that I would have been in, from the time I woke up this morning to right now as I'm typing this message, if I had or had not watched that video!

For sure! I was waiting to her cortana's voice...there will probably be another video posted in the next couple days with it.

But the animations and sounds are very cool...just like an Xbox.

Yeah man, I mean Do you really want to know all the features now? I mean I wouldn't it would destroy the fun. I wanna hear it from them (Microsoft) I wanna hear them speak about all the hard work the developers have put in to bring Windows Phone 8.1 to reality. The journey is always better than the destination :)

This video means nothing to me without a voice. Catastrophic let down if not Jen Taylor.

You seriously expect Jen to record all the damn words you're going to ask it to respond with? Come on dude, get real.

Seriously though! I have such high expectations ever sense I heard they were naming it Cortana. If it doesn't sound like her I will probably die a little bit inside. And I most definitely have her call me Master Chief lol!

It's actually one of the remaining *Windows Mobile* features we don't yet have on Windows Phone. Android may happen to have it, but it certainly didn't start there.

agree. I was asking about these right after WP8 released. I am hoping with WP8.1 can do profiles with location base as well. we did that with Windows Mobile and it was so great. Volume down based on fact I am at work. When leave work, volume goes up....could do it based on time but was greater when doing it based on location so if leaving for lunch, volume when up and then back down when back in office.

One thing that I do miss is from the Windows Mobile HTC Touch 2 is the proximity volume adjust. If proximity sensor was was compleltly covered (aka in your pocket) it would automatically set ring and notification volumn to max.

Really would like this as a setting in WP8.1 or near future.

I've been waiting very patiently for that... my old Windows Mobile devices used to do that and I loved it... never had to worry about manually switching to vibrate mode, the phone did it for me.

In my opinion, that's the best new feature I've heard announced for 8.1.

For me, it's nothing that big, but it's the kind of thing that we need more: simple, but for some people so useful features. Like the automatic search that happens if you paint a text and press bing button. I really wish the WP team will focus on these later on, as now we have almost all the big features..

...or not so smart. Could have used any text-to-speech app or software on another phone or PC to test if Cortana responds. However, I think probably Cortana isn't in a state where she talks or hears in that build.

Microsoft would and should know where this phone is really.

If the question was asked, even with TTS, there is probably a chance that when Cortana phone's home, MS could have figured out which phone asked that question (or questions). At least in the development phase while bugs are being worked out, they are probably questions could very well be linked to IMEIs and they could track it down rather quickly.

Unlike the kid that taped his "developer" HTC One/M8 with his voice, sticker numbers showing, and showing his face

Why?  He doesnt seem to hide who he is with a name and picture on his Youtube profile. Unless of course, that isnt him or his real name. Quite a "unique" name to make up though.

I agree, how hard can it be for Microsoft to add some kind of categories to organise it better!!

Its like they never use their own phones. I really hate scrolling the settings page. Clusterfuck

Someone at Microsoft please address this, the people are confused... At least explain the ordering of settings

It's easier than drinking water for them and they have already done that with windows 8/RT. They made an awesome settings page they can do all awesome things but they don't wanna do that with WP because of a fu***** reason I don't know

In my opinion it's aqcuiring Nokia but because they aqcuired it so I expect a great WP 8.1.....ha dirty game :D

Yeah, its one long, almost infinite list. They should maybe have three tabs instead of the two they have now to cut down on the continuos vertical scrolling

I was thinking the exact same thing.  They REALLY need to build a hierarchy as they did with Windows 8.1.

Its better of we have alphabet finder in settings like when we swipe to right from the pin screen menu to the vertical menu of wp

Agreed, but I bet you'll be able to access/find settings via Cortana. "Change my ringtone" or "Modify glance settings" or something along those lines. I'm totally guessing, but it seems sensible given everything else we know.

I've actually been complaining about this for awhile. The settings have little rhyme or reason to them and with Nokia's additions as well as more coming with 8.1, it's just a mess. They should make it more like W8 proper. It also doesn't help that single toggle settings (such as flight mode, Bluetooth etc) all have their own pages.

100% Agreed. Especially since they don't use any icons as visual indicators of what things are. The settings menu can certainly use some polish. But I'm not going to complain that its growing! :)

I wouldn't mind as long as it was just simply in alphabetical order! The settings menu is by far the least usable screen on Windows Phone.

What would be really great is a searchable settings page, search for language, keyboard, Bluetooth etc.

Same here, actually im not impressed with this... :( but yet again this shows almost nothing, it barely went through the setup process.

Looks like its functionality will blow Siri out of her swimming pool! This is powerful stuff. I hope it works seemlessly and is VERY natural.

The way it works and the way it integrates with features and tasks is already better than Siri. With a natural voice and better recognition + the ability to evolve for each individual personally adds to it.

Again, how can you know? There's been no videos showing it's integrated with features and tasks, nor has anyone heard this "natural voice" (which siri has a bit of now). Just written accounts of pre-release software. The Courier tablet blew the iPad out of the water too...

with bing and foursquare, Siri uses bing for search... 

but cortana look more like a UI more then Siri looks...

Lets be honest, Siri is trash comparing to cortana uses


Can't believe you are making me quote myself!

"I hope it works seemlessly and is VERY natural" - means I hope it works seemlessly and I hope it is VERY natural.

Video shows what it can do. It doesn't ask all those stuff to you only because it wants to cook dinner for you. It asks those things to you so that it becomes more and more personlised instead of generalised how Siri is. Things are in the menu for a reason. They are in the build just to build hype. However, like I said - execution is the key and if it is executed as it should, Siri will be pale compared to Cortana any day.

Looks awesome...i wonder if there is an option to still have the search button open Bing and not just cortana

I think holding for a long time will open cortana, while quick press of the search button will open the Bing search

Looking at the video I think you have to hold the search button for Cortana, so maybe a single press will still be Bing?

I would much rather they kept regular Bing search as a single press and Cortana as a long press. I love having the fluidity and ease of Bing with one quick touch, even if the results aren't always bang on.

No voice yet? But hey, looks sleek. If she can operate silently that would be cool because It would make her 4000000 times more useful than siri. People don't use siri because you have to talk to her, but this.... THIS!


Please replace this comments feature for Disqus as it offers much more control.

While you're totally off topic, I agree, I think a ranked best/newest/oldest comment system would make the opinions in this section that matter more legible. As it stands, its not all that enticing to sift through all the crappy comments to get to the good ones here. I normally give a quick scroll, see nothing that I like and exit the article.

Milky Tee I agree fully and you said perfectly, Disqus is becoming very popular and with Windows Phone app it allows us to monitor and discuss further on the go whereas this setup is absolute nightmare, just need to get the word out to them, will try and Facebook them as well.

I haven't used that disqus thing, cheeses me off having to sign in or register for those things. I was gutted when Major Nelson altered his site and stopped us posting using gamertags.

What is free for Super Agent is the free trial download.. You still have to pay to buy the full version.. This myfreeapp is a scam if they twist around like this and make us tempted to download stuff on wrong premise.

I know there won't be, but how awsome would it be if it had a rampant toggle?  Rampant Cortana is the hottest Cortana.

So...she doesn't speak??
I know we often would prefer women in our lives to shut up but this is the one time we wanted one to speak...:P

You do realize he probably partly made the joke because he knew overly sensitive people like yourself would get your panties in a bunch. Right? We don't care about your distorted view of ethics.

I got the joke, and I liked it. Nice one. People do need to lighten the hell up. It's like everyone's looking for an excuse to be offended anymore.

Don't expect it. There's way too much dynamic data that needs to be processed, it wouldn't work unless you lock her up for a few years to record millions of words, names and common phrases so that it all sounds natural.

I don't think it'd necessarily have to be that way; i believe they can just record relatively few common syllables and some speech patterns and let a program do the crunching. I still wouldn't expect her to be the voice though. We'll probably just get the bog standard robotic male/female

That is not how that works... You think the voice of Siri and Google Now are back there recording every word?  They basically record her saying different sentances that contain different letter arrangements with pronunciations and syllabuls. Then they us an algorithm to string them together.

If you want it to sound like Cortana with the proper cadences and inflections, it will have to be that way.

Almost-perfect voice synthesizers exist for over a decade, you know... I even coded one with well-known people voice years ago. All you need is a list of all phonemes and a proper engine to rule them, including pitch and amplitude control as a minimum.
No need to record all and every words, fortunately :-)
So what Darutto wants can totally be achieved nowadays.

Edit: oops, looks like I was really slow on that one ^_^

If Microsoft was able to add this to Cortana allowing her to operate as a universal translator, they could own mobile.