Cortana begins to receive China-specific features for Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1 is technically out now with the Lumia 630 slowly hitting markets, but its personal assistant Cortana is on a longer release schedule. According to a new report, Microsoft is evidently hard at work to regionalize the service, making it more useful for those outside of the US. LiveSide is reporting that Cortana – enabled through a region hack on Windows Phone 8.1 devices – has some unique offerings for those in China.

Users who have a Windows Phone 8.1 device (or the Preview for Developers) don’t need to do anything besides to the region hack to enable Cortana in China.

Once enabled, the Chinese IP address will allow personalized content to the phone, including:

  • Daily Routine: Beijing driving curbs schedule.
  • Celebrity: celebrities news and social activities which is provided by Bing Score, a rank service developed by Bing China.
  • China Watch: public holidays schedule, Bing Dictionary “Word of the Day” and the Beijing Movie Festival schedule.
  • Lottery: lottery drawing date and results.
  • Movies and TV: top movies and TV in some categories from Youku.
  • Weather: temperature in Celsius and air pollution index.

The air pollution index is interesting because it seems to mirror the recent Microsoft Research app ‘Urban Air’, suggesting that tech is being merged into Cortana. Likewise, even if you’re not in China, it’s fascinating to see how Microsoft is personalizing the service for each region. While such an endeavor takes time, it gives a much more personal experience, something that is boasted about with Cortana.

If you’re outside of the US, what region-specific things would you want Cortana to tell you every day? Sound off in comments with your region and wish list!


Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.