Skip to main content

Microsoft updates Cortana's Interests with local events finder

Microsoft and the Cortana team have noted that users can expect updates to the service every few weeks. Tonight, at least one new change is new to the personal assistant: local events.

For those who do not know, Cortana stores preferences of the user in her 'notebook' and one of those has the label 'Interests.' Interests range from news, weather, travel, sports, finance, and other items that a person may want to have Cortana track. Now under those interests is a new category with the name Events.

Located under the Discover feature, Events comes with the following description: "Get suggestions for local events in a wide variety of categories." Those optional categories include such things as community, dance, music, food and dining, and more. Once enabled Cortana tries to identify happenings around you that may pique your curiosity.

Although adding local events is nothing significant, it does demonstrate how Microsoft can dynamically update Cortana to enable new features with a flick of a switch. Moreover, it reveals Microsoft's plans to make Cortana a very profound personal assistant, with numerous categories added in the future. One such example recently highlighted involves merging Bing, Cortana, and Microsoft's Academic Search for scholars.

Back in June, Microsoft added numerous new enhancements to Cortana, including UI changes, weather icons, more 'chit-chat' and finance support. Later in July, graphs for stocks was added as well.

What categories would you like to see Cortana get next? Let us know below.

Thanks, Sanjeev S., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

70 Comments
  • I'd like to see them integrate this with songkick.com using your music collection to notify you when one of your artists is playing a gig.
  • +925 great idea. Or even a list of upcoming gigs in the area in general.
  • That's an awesome idea, would love to see that happen too.
  • That is a great idea.
  • If only Songkick had a windows phone app - if you are in the UK or US, try Pepper
  • Can't wait to take cortana for a spin, been using Google Now, and want to see how it compares. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Cortana honestly does a better job tracking the news you want to be kept updated about :) and along the way she'll only get better
  • I agree that it will get better. From a comparison table the only thing that I see it doesn't have is always listening, which is the one thing about Google Now that I like. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Voice activation with insteon parts will come soon.
  • What sources does Cortana use to find these events?
  • I'm guessing Bing and facebook
  • I'm guessing her 500 year advanced intelligence
  • Haha
  • Bazinga!!!!
  • Yeah, but don't they have agreements with folks like Yelp and 4 Square and others to drive local search accuracy?  
  • I cant wait for them to update her voice client-side. Im tired of hearing Microsoft TellMe when saying numbers or contact names. Jenn Taylor's voice is so much better.
  • Local deals. Bing on WP8 had it.
  • Come to Pakistan soon
  • ...and India too! (without the insane battery draining issues)
  • Waiting Waiting Waiting foreverrrrrr!!!!
  • Not there for me yet.
  • Song lyrics when searching for a song!!!
  • Not a fan of voice assistants. I'll admit that Cortana's AI is impressive, but it's early days. It's still in beta... I'll pass....
  • Okay, so when is Cyan coming out to the US so we can finally use Cortana?
  • Just get the Developer Preview!!
  • I don't like that I can't add firearms as a personal interest.
  • That's a little too specific for an activity. They aren't going to list every single activity like bowling or mime classes. Sports+outdoors is probably the closest.
  • Pro tip: Do a going search on desktop for a topic. In results, under ' News about ____' they're should be link that says ' stay up to date on this topic'. Cortana will now use that in interest feed. Doesn't work for every topic\ search but worth playing with.
  • Still waiting for Cortana here in UK...
  • It's coming be patient it won't be long.
  • Haha. I bet something goes wrong and it's delayed again ;)
  • College Sports
  • Nice, I was just missing this feature a few days ago when I was wondering what was going on locally.
  • Better song recognition. I've always been impressed with WP song recognition, but the past few weeks 90% of the time it can't recognize the song.. Even a really popular song with no background noise.
  • I would like for biweekly updates to come to Cortana like Xbox Music.
  • I'd really love it if Cortana would do something simple like tell me the time and the date. Also she should be able to wake with voice activation by politely saying "Hello Cortana".
  • I this would be nice. I actually thought Cortana did this at first. I still keep saying "hey Cortana shuffle my music"... After double tapping my Bluetooth headset, but she just read "shuffle music"
  • 1- i'd like her to have full control over OS features 2- i'd like her to be the international voice for the OS meaning more global support for all countries 3- if im using here maps while driving i'd like her to warn me if im driving too fast or if there is a radar near so i wont get a speed ticket 4- i'd like her to recommend a faster road direction if im driving 5- if someone sick i'd like her to remind me when its time to give someone medication pills by just entering medicine name and number of times per day 6- if im searching for a product i'd like her to notify me if there is deals on this product and where is the nearest store in my area
  • We are talking about a phone for goodness sake and not a super computer
  • Chill he is Jus doing his prayers! :P
  • I'd also like a personal robot.
  • Which would prepare me tea and then serve it to me and at the same time open the door if I have any guests. Also while it is doing this I would also like it switch on my lights in the home and set the temperature according to my and yes, my guest's needs.
  • my personal property to know :)
  • Oh goodie! I was sad when 8.1 removed Local Events from Bing, glad to see them back! Now if only Microsoft would re-add Local Deals, that'd be great!
  • BE nice to see her in New Zealand as well ... soon :)
  • I would like to see sports teams other than professional available. College would be great!
  • We'll see when the "Discover" feature shows up on my 1020. 
  • Oh! And there it is... :-)
  • I can't wait for Cortana to hit the UK, I have the official release on my 625, but it just doesn't feel as Special without Cortana, still waiting for my 1020 to be updated, but since I was one of the first phones to get the Amber & Black Updates, I can't complain too much, but windows 8.1 runs really nice on the 625, it's a worthy update!!!
  • No Cortana in my area yet so this doesn't apply to me,hoping to get before 2015 is out
  • Pretty sweet update. I'd like MSFT make it possible for Cortana to always listen, like Google Now on the Moto X.
  • I also would love to see this feature...... Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I don't know why it is so hard to have Cortana in other countries. One reason for this maybe is language recognition and I understand this but let's have it at least in English. For example here maps/drive has almost all the information in other countries like places etc.
  • Should have this too:
    https://m.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2F9gag.com%2Fgag%2FazbN36j%3Fr...
    9Gag Google tricks
  • I dont have cortana in indonesian..please update cortana in here..
  • We dont hav 8.1 update still how does that make you feel ha!?....be happy Wid Wht u hav! :)
  • Hmmm....im so sad..
  • Wish Cortana would know that my commute is by train and not car. The traffic updates are of no use to me.
  • Why there is no Cortana for my HTC 8x?
  • Mine is UK piece n using In India
  • I don't see that option.
  • Now I got it... This is sweet!
  • You can also ask Cortana now "What events are going on nearby?" And she gives you the Bing events page listing. Really cool and useful, especially in a new area you're visiting.
  • Cortana is an it not a she. It would be nice if people would stop anthropomorphizing a stupid bit of code in an OS and reserved animate references for living things, not inanimate objects. Truly pathetic....
  • Around me . Shops pubs etc
  • This will fail in the UK, we only have a few places major events happen and I doubt very much Cortana will know about the traditional village idiot pie throwing contest happening 2 miles away in a neighboring village, I am over the age of 20 so do not want to know when shizzle mc doughnut is 100 miles away, I want actual local stuff
  • You say the UK doesn't have much going on - just gigs alone there are over 19,000 future events planned over the next few months - check out Pepper for more info - www.pepper.so
  • More chit chat, and even better voice recognition!
  • code Cortana to teach Spanish or other select languages!
  • Hrmmm....I don't see the events option under discover. Do I have to do some sort of update?