Does Cortana sound less robotic today?

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! 

  • Can't answer what time it is
  • Yeah. I sometimes ask "What time is it in Paris", and it just gives me a web search...
  • 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
  • Apparently responds to "let me troll an article about you Cortana."
  • I noticed the sports questions too but she's been answering them since last week. I'll keep asking. Great to see them updating!
  • I know you are defending a beta product, but you are defending a beta product. It needs to improve. It's a beta.
  • And always will be.
  • Did you learn something today? so you're a beta too :p
  • Ie. Its a beta product. You shouldn't have to defend it
  • 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.
  • Ahaha you actually got me with that one. :)
  • 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...
  • All she says is in German! Wtf?!
  • 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.
  • Yes, I've noticed the two voices.. I guess we can consider one the old, and one the new voice..
  • That's because it uses Jen Taylor and the original robotic voice that we had before Cortana. Depends on what you're asking.
  • Was thinking the same...
  • It's good to know no one can robotize my voice yet :p
  • 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.
  • Love her!!!  Here's some new ones / new responses: - You're sexy. - Are you drunk? - Do you sleep? <3
  • Ask her where she lives, or if she has a car.. Lol!
  • Ask her " are you at school?"
  • Lol.. That's what "she" said when I asked her if she had a car..
  • Ask her if she has legs...
  • 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.
  • Just say testing to her:)
  • 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
  • Yeah, that's the first thing I noticed.. Kinda wierd... Lol!!
  • Sounds exactly the same, come on.
  • Tell her she's beautiful and hear her reply! :P
  • Ask Cortana what if she likes
  • She tells me that there is no anything visual basic about me
  • It's probably because part is a canned response and part is the data part of the response. One is static, one is generated.
  • Cortana, do you love Siri?
  • She's always answered that one.. Lol!
  • When I asked her if she was Jen Taylor.... she replies, "Words Fail Me"..
  • 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'.
  • Just asked her if she was high on drugs... "words fail me"
  • 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..
    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...
  • I got: "I would not, could not, in the rain. Not in the dark, Not on a train".   way too smart 4 me :p   (4:40)
  • Lol
  • I first heard this response when I asked her if she has a brain
  • Sounds the same to me. Robot I mean. Was there a silent update or something?
  • Bing Search and Cortana can be updated in the backend without OS-level updates.
  • Aha thank you for that bit of information :D
  • Yup. Some does sound less robotic
  • Ask her "tell me a knock knock joke"
  • Just say "Cortana"... They finally added this one.. This should be useful when were able to wake our phones by calling Cortana..
  • Yeah !!! <3 "Right There Chief"
  • "Wake me when you need me."
  • "Alright, what time shall I set an alarm" made me lol
  • Yup! Sounds much more natural to me! Very impressed!
  • Great! She really changed, sounds more lively.
  • Cortana is mime
    ....back off
  • HAHAHHAA tell her "May the force be with you" and listen to what she says!!!
  • Oh snap haha
  • Nice! Awesome to see some specifically recorded ones with a lot of humor in them.
  • That accent!!!.. Now, that's something that Siri doesn't do, and that I never expected Cortana to do..
  • 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...❔❔❔
  • Lol Can someone post her answer to that? Lol not everyone chose to upgrade to 8.1 just yet
  • "The force is with you, young Skywalker. But, you are not a Jedi yet"... With a British accent..
    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❕
    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.
  • What device do you have?
  • Lumia 925, so yeah not an 8X so there's that.  But there are bugs in the update.
  • I've gotten 3 different responses so far from this one.
  • "Don't try to frighten us with you sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader." ( heavy accent ) XD  
  • Haha, great find!
  • 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.  
  • There's no question that sounds so much better she has a new knock joke and sings better too
  • Wow, the singing is much better.
  • Dang.. Cortana sounds seriously human now. Awesome!
  • 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?
  • People like you.....
  • They grow up bitter. They die bitter. Let's just not pay attention to their useless bitterness :)
  • Lol!!!.... I LIKE what you did there..
  • 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
  • Awesome. Just asked her to tell me a joke and she sounds more like Jen and less like voicemail.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins score was not worth asking :/
  • Yes it was
  • Ooh, =P
  • Neither was the Hawks :(
  • I know, but the Kings weren't playing. Go Kings!
  • I think they improved her a little!
  • Try also "do you know jen taylor" its so funny reply
  • HAHAHA +520, that was a good one.
  • That one cracked me up.
  • And she said??
  • "I can't get her voice out f my head"   
  • OH man... tell her she's sexy... she responds with such a sexy voice... *blush*
  • Haha this is awesome
  • Lol
  • She told me "Go on.."
  • 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.
  • Definitely updated. Ask her beam me up Scotty and you will notice it right away.
  • Even when you ask her to sing you a song, it's updated!
  • yeah but still doesn't understand what again means :(
  • Great one! What does the fox say has changed too
  • Say "Do you love Master chief" its interesting
  • 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..
  • Yup. Cortana sounds more like a lady today.
  • Ask Cortana... "Are you a girl?" and "Are you a boy?"
  • I asked if she was a transvestite. She kinda said yes.
  • Lmao
  • I asked it and got "I would not, could not, in the rain. Not in the dark. Not on a train."
  •     (4:40)
  • 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.
  • When was the last time you tried this? I still get the same 4 or 5 songs she did before.
  • Also ask... "Are you a child?"
  • Gonna test her out and then come back here to share my experience with you guys =P
  • 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
  • Mine changed it to "Developers, developers, developers, developers etc."
  • I got "you could power cleveland with that guy's energy!"