Microsoft working on passive-voice activation for Cortana

While asking Cortana various questions on Windows Phone 8.1 is natural, the way in which one enables the personal voice assistant isn't quite as fluid. Users need to press down on the Search key or press the Live Tile and microphone before Cortana enables, and while it's not difficult there are better solutions available.

One of the solutions is passive-voice activation, which is something users of the Xbox One with Kinect should know. Passive-voice activation allows users to engage the AI or system simply by using their voice. Likewise, the Motorola Moto X with Android can also activated by explicitly stating 'Ok, Google Now.' The phone will then come awake, letting users make appointments, starting their music, or sending a text message without ever touching the phone.

Although Cortana is still in its beta stage, many are curious as to when passive-voice activation will arrive, as it seems like the next reasonable step. Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, has once again taken to Twitter to tease the feature:

"Something to think about as we design voice activation for #Cortana. Don't want Jesse sending texts on your behalf."

Ash is referring to the new Xbox One commercial featuring 'Breaking Bad' Star Aaron Paul. In the ad, Paul says 'Xbox On' and for anyone with an Xbox One and Kinect system, their system may accidentally turn on as a result. Clearly, this is a downside to passive-voice activation and something that Ash and his team are taking into consideration when further designing Cortana.

Of course, the big surprise there is that Ash just admitted that Microsoft is actively developing voice activation. That news is not necessarily surprising, but it is reassuring.

The one caveat to this feature is when it arrives, it will most likely only work on newer Snapdragon 800 and higher chipsets. The ability to leave microphones on for passive activation is not a trivial thing to enable on any phone (unless you're the NSA, we suppose). That means in designing and enabling this feature, Microsoft may have to somewhat fragment the Cortana experience, frustrating some users who have older hardware. But like all things in technology, the spoils go to those with the latest gadgets.

Ash is no stranger to Twitter lately, often revealing interesting bits of information about Cortana, including alternative names and encouraging Windows Phone users that their OS was top priority for development. Ash also recently discussed the origins of the voice assistant, including mass adoption by international users in a video featured on Windows Phone Central.

What do you think of passive voice activation? Would it make using Cortana easier for you? Would it entice you to buy a new phone with supported hardware for the feature?

Source: @MarcusAsh; via Neowin

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, 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 for some reason, watches. 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.

  • Finally
  • This
  • Why not Apple's way of making Siri listen when the phone is plugged into a power outlet? Chances are if the phone is far enough that I want to command it with only my voice, it's over there being charged. So I can send a text while it is out of my reach, which is most likely during charging.
  • Not necessarily right. At home, my phone always sitting on the desk while I doing other things. Watching TV, browsing on my computer, etc. I only charge my phone when necessary. If it only listen when it plugged, then people like me won't have that much the chance to use cortana from distance. Not that I frequently use cortana though :p
  • Umm... Some technology called Wireless charging alerady helps this case. Why waste battery juice even when it sits idle(albeit being charged)?
  • C'mmon, thats illogic!!!! Use cortana only when is plugged? Bad idea...
  • What if each phone knew your own voice so that another person couldn't use their voice to mess with your own phone?
  • The phone already knows the owners name. Just say," this is [ insert name here] start XBox Music"
  • It would be better if you could set the words or whatever sentences you like to wake up Cortana.
  • Yes!.. I wanna say what I wanna say.
  • like "Hey B*tch, now listen!" :D
  • ^ A bit offensive but +720
  • u cant be tha rude
  • why not? i am free to be as rude as i want. of course... you are also free to tell me to shut up. hmm... guess we are both rude.
  • Now that would be incredible, but if done around another wouldn't it be easy for them to simply say what you've said to wake it as well? Though it would set it apart from the others in being able to set your own voice wake code.
  • Google Now has this feature, as do all Samsung Galaxy devices. It's called a "Wake Up Command"
  • No reason why that couldn't be done. In fact, it's been available for years, and no reason why Microsoft couldn't license an embedded version of VoiceIt for this purpose. Disclosure: I know the guy behind the tech, but otherwise have no interest in the company.
  • What would be nice would be to bring the following to earphones more QUICKLY:
    A long press on the earphone button should wake Cortana up and start listening - "hi Daniel".
    I find that it is much more private to have a conversation via earphones, especially while walking I don't feel so silly talking to my phone, but also not having to take my phone out of my pocket, switch it on and start finding buttons. Also in this mode, Cortana should always read to you even if just to say "maybe try this", indicating a screen only response.
    The passive listening sounds great, but I would rather get the above feature sooner rather than waiting an age for MS to perfect something which sounds quite complicated.
  • This feature is already there, I use it almost all the time I am out, like when I am on the road or in the bus, I long press the earphone buttons, and it brings up cortana, no need to take out my phone. As simple as that.
  • "Ok, Google Now!" --- seriously? that's what you have to say? could that be any stupider? i'd much rather just push the button for a second.
  • Same here.
  • Actually I think it's just 'Ok, Google'  and it's really kinda nice.  For example "Ok, Google when do the reds play next?"
  • No, it's "Ok, Google Now". My friend has a Moto X and he has to say this exact sentence.
  • Ok google for my nexus 7
  • +1020 on my Nexus 7
  • My friend has a GS4 and he says "OK google", so your friend is saying an extra word.
  • still sounds dumb LOL, to me "Cortana" will work perfectly fine, who will accidently say Cortana anyways.
  • The moto x is passive from the sleep state so they say "ok Google now" (only unique to the moto x) and when your on the home screen of pretty much any newer android phone all you have to say is "ok Google" and it will activate.. But the screen has to be on for anything but the moto x at the moment
  • No it is not "Okay Google Now."  Not on my phone. I have the LG G2 and when I say "Ok Google" , Google wakes up. 
  • My wife activates her SGSIII with "Ok Google"
    And my Xbox never activates with the above mentioned commercial using the "Xbox On" Command.
  • Yeah, I've always thought the Voice Activation for Google is dumb having to say OK before you say Google Now...but, it may be the way they get around the issue raised above in the article: how do you handle accidental activation?  Just saying Cortana is a bit generic because what if you are talking to a friend about Halo, or explaining Cortana on WP to a friend and say "Cortana"?  Well, now you have your phone activated and it's recording everything you said after you accidentally launched it.  Then it's going to try do something with what it just heard. OK, Google Now! is not something you would say in everyday conversation, so it's the perfect way to know that the user actually wants to engage the AI.
  • Actually, while this tech is not present in all phones just yet, it is getting more common to have phones (and especially with Lumias) that can detect where it is.  So if you are on the phone or the phone is in your pocket, then Cortana could be set to not activate when she hears her name, and only when she knows you are holding the phone and nothing else is going on.
  • This is a great idea.
  • But if I'm holding the phone I can probably push the button. I want it to work when it's on the counter away from my grip.
  • Exactly!
  • Thats a good idea, but I'd like it better to activate it with a voice command no matter where the mobile is. lets say you are laying on the couch your mobile is playing music over the stereo. You could then activate Cortana by voice and switch the track, mute it or whatever. Thats just one scenario, but there are plenty of it where I don't want to hold my phone in the hands when Cortana can read everything to me.
  • I think it would be cool if the user chose how to activate Cortana. You could type it in. Same as you type in your name. The system is really good at text to speech and I think this would be building on the whole customization of the OS for individuals.
  • Huh? You would rather type out her name instead of holding down the button?
  • Read it again, he meant having the ability for the user to change the activation phrase.
  • kayb27  +1  
  • kayb27 +1 Maybe we don't need to type it in...just record the phrase you want Cortana to recognize and she just listens for that phrase. I'm okay with passive if it is secure, in the sense that somehow the system doesn't allow other apps to listen passively, or at least let you control it.
  • Seems like a no-brainer to allow users to enter a preferred word how to activate Cortana. Like "Hey" for "Hey Cortana" or "Go". I admit it seems rather simplistic, but sometimes the dev teams forget how to think simple.
  • I'm sure the dev team knows the options available to them.
  • However, leaving the decision to the Dev team would mean thaat everyone will have to use a phrase that appeals to the hypothesized majority. Allowing the users set the phrase not only makes the phone more personal, it also just makes sense for a larger group of users.
  • It would be great if we could manually set what could wake up Cortana in settings. I would set it "Hey Cortana"
    Edit - lol, seems I am not the only one.
  • Nicely said...i also believe that.
  • On my Nexus 5 I just say "Ok Google" and the phone starts listening. That is faster than holding the search button on my Lumia devices. The downside to the voice activation on the Nexus 5 is that it only works from the home screen whereas you can hold the search button from anywhere in the UI and get Cortana. I would like the option to have both the current way and the voice activated way. Voice activation has it's downsides in rare situations for example, I taught an Android class a few months ago and my Nexus 5 was projected on the wall and during the history of Android section, Google Now kept activating the listening mode because it thought that I said "Ok Google" when in actuality I was saying "Google" with other phrases. I had to tell the phone to stop listening several times. The students thought it was funny, I found it quite annoying. It did lead to another segment where I introduced Google Now and the need for special hardware to have an always listening mode from the Home Screen. Any suggestions as to what we would say to activate Cortana? We can't just say "Cortana" as that would activate it any time the word Cortana is used, even if we don't need anything. Cortana would reply: "Demitrius, I heard you talking about me earlier, you know that I can hear you right?"   Crrrrreeeeeeeeeppppppyyyyyy!
  • To be honest, I wouldn't be saying "Cortana" unless adressing my phone; plain "Cortana" for activation would work just fine for most non-techies, I would think... "Google", or any phrase including "Google", on the other hand! Google is almost synonymous with doing a search, and is used all the time.
  • How goes is the voice recognition with Google Now? Cos with the issues MS have with the Xbox picking up Jessie, surely there's a risk other people are going to go "Ok Google" and make your phone do something without you wanting it to. Real chance for mischief if you're not careful.
  • My friend has a Droid Maxx and I know that with the google now feature, The phone only responds to his voice. I tried to say it after he demonstrated in front of me but it would not wake up or listen. I like that it knows only your voice and I would like MS to bring this type of feature to the Lumia group.
  • i think they should do it like this - use the proximity sensor to detect if the phone needs to be listening or not (eg in pocket - off, on hand - on)  - then if its connected to bluetooth then keep listening, and allow the user to determine a list of bluetooth device to be listening at all times (except when you are on the phone of course) - then the most important fix for when the phone is on the table and get activated is give us an option to say, stop listening for the next (duration) or just stop listening to turn it off until we turn it back on by going to the search screen   that should take care of 90% of the issues, would be nice if it can recognize our voice/tone though it would reduce error rate even further
  • There is no way saying ok Gooogle is any faster than just pressing the search button.
  • It isn't, but when you're driving a car, not having to pick up your phone is a benefit.
  • Well, a phrase like, "Cortona, listen" or "Cortona, are you there?" would be distinct enough to keep random activation from occurring. The phone would then respond, "How can I help you?" Or "I'm listening, ." This would work nicely.
  • +928
  • "Wake up Cortana" might work as well
  • On my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 I can activate a search from any app by swiping up from the bottom and than saying "OK Google". Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • +620
  • Google is so stupid that they have to put their name on everything - and making users have to say "Ok, Google" with personal assistant is even more stupid! Microsoft names: OneDrive, Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone, Office, Bing, Cortana, Outlook, etc., and rarely you see the name "Microsoft" along. Apple names: iOS, OS X, iWork, iTunes, App Store, iCloud, Safari, etc., and rarely you see the name "Apple" along. GOOGLE names: Google +, Google Hangouts, Google, Google Drive, Gmail, Android, Google Now, Google Maps, Google Chrome, Google Books, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google translator, etc. I don't know how they didn't name YouTube "Google Tube".
  • You are right. Ego problems maybe.
  • They bought YouTube already up and running...
  • Because they bought YouTube and Android hence no Google prefix.
  • GooTube?
  • Gmail and Android is probably their only saving grace, as for YouTube it just came that way when they bought it, would probably enrage alot of people if they decided to go with Google Video... (Google Tube sounds... I don't know, sketchy for some reason)
  • "Goog Tube" ??
  • this made me chuckle. it's so true.
  • This is a ridiculous comment. Microsoft is famous for having some of the worst products names ever. Also, Microsoft is most certianly in the offical names of many of their products: Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Windows, etc, those are official names. Having your brand isn't much different either: Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Xbox Live, Bing News, Bing Translator, Bing Sports, Bing Travel, Bing Food & Drink. Microsoft also makes you say "Bing" when you want to search something with voice with the Kinect on Xbox, instead of just "search for..." It's stupid, why can I just say, "Xbox, find" or Xbox, search" I've used Google Now with voice activation and it's actally pretty cool and works very well.
  • ya you're quite right.  Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Xbox are certainly valid tradenames. the same can be said for apple:  apple mcintosh, apple tv, apple ipod, apple itunes, apple icloud, apple ipad, etc.
  • Excel is not "Microsoft Excel" it is just "Excel."  I just launched it on my Office 2013 version and "Microsoft" is nowhere to be found on the splash screen.  When launch System on Windows 8.1, the software is clearly just called "Windows" not "Microsoft Windows." Indeed, with the exception of Dynamics, I cannot find a single example of MS generally including their corporate name in a product.  Sometimes they include their corporate name alongside the product name, but not usually.   In contrast, Google Drive's official name seems to be "Google Drive."  It is never referred to as just "Drive."  There really is a difference.
  • +928
  • So you remember it's Bing and not Google
  • there is also google keep, google cloud print, google calendar, google finance, google music, and google play.  we all live in a googly world.
  • Xbox, on. Isn't that as stupid as Ok Google Now.
  • How else would you tell Xbox to turn on? I'm curious...
  • "Yo, futuristic box thingee, on"
  • well Xbox being the name of the product and is one word, and its a good thing it only listens for Xbox on to turn it on else I'd be creeped out too
  • Next time your in an area where many people are bound to have this feature, tell out "ok Google now" can be quite fun watching everyone's phone turn on
  • Haha I did that to my friends phone for an hour continuously. He turned it off finally. XD
  • LOL. I think I'll try this in my next meeting :)
  • Doesn't work, at least not in a Moto X. It's trained to recognize and react to your voice specifically. For example, I am unable to trick my girlfriend's Moto X.
  • I can contest this is true on the Moto X. You aren't required to but you can train it to your voice and it works very well.
  • I am sad Google bought Motorola and sold it to lenovo. I REALLY wanted a Motorola WP device, more so than I wanted a Nokia.   But then again I'm American.
  • Um, with Lenovo, there might be Motorola WP.
  • Ok Google GO GO Gadget Music app NOW!
  • No, u have to say "OK Google". That is how I activate Google Search on my Galaxy Nexus. It would be nice to say "OK Cortana" on a Windows phone. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Just have to say "ok Google"
  • All you have to say is "Ok Google" and you can set wake up commands. If WP had a decent dev team then you guys would probably be in the 21st century.
  • I'm ready for that.
  • I m gonna love it.. Bring it on.. I need to send messages via passive voice, and also need to support passive voice for 3rd party app like WhatsApp, wechat and many other, then it will be awesome..
  • Didn't you mean Bing it on since Cortana used Bing???
  • I know Cortana use Bing, but this type voice control if integrated with WhatsApp or other app then it will be awesome , just say WhatsApp, send xxxxx to xxxx
  • I think that will come eventually, I believe the developers have to put the code into their apps to enable these features. I was thinking that and it would be convenient to have the radio apps (Slacker, MixRadio, etc.) be integrated so I can say what channel I want to listen to with which ever app I want opened, like "Open New Rock on Slacker Radio" and have the app open and jump right in.
  • I'm pretty sure there is an API for that in 8.1, just need the devs to implement it
  • Say something like hello cortana!
  • How about "This is the chief speaking..." ?!
  • +920
  • sounds awesome
  • Would be great if the command could be personalised.
  • That would be the best
  • I would set mine to: "Yo, phone bitch!"
  • Yeah would love this feature.
  • Wish I could actually use Cortana :/ Come on July:)
  • Same here. Getting tired of having to switch region everytime I'm to buy an app. :(
  • I'm in the U.S,but I'm not going to run the craptastic Preview on my phone.Will wait for the official launch.
  • You're missing out!
  • Missing out on having a phone that's unusable.No wifi,mms or text.Sorry!but I don't need a five hundred dollar paper weight.
  • What? All of that still works.........
  • I don't have problems buying apps with the region change. I'm guessing that it shouldn't be a problem for you either.
  • Having the microphone on all the day sounds like a big battery drain to me, but I guess there are ways around that.
  • The new chipsets mentioned in the post support a low power "listening" mode that doesn't put a massive drain on the battery. Microphones in cellphones are passive anyway, so the battery is just going to the clock cycles the CPU needs to listen.
  • Wow!
  • No Lumia 1020 :(
  • Sad that dedicated hardware might be required, means my beloved 1020 will probably never have this awesomeness :( but like Daniel says, to those with the newest gadgets goes the spoils...
  • look on the bright side, by the time it arrives it's probably time for us to upgrade anyways (my 1020 is only 6 month old lol)
  • Wouldn't it work on SD 400 chipsets either?
  • I'm not sure. Maybe.
  • For older device, at least have the option to enable it when charging. Then if you are driving and you have your phone hooked up and charging or in the morning and the phone is charging, we could activate it... Just a thought.
  • The Snapdragon 800 has a QDSP6V5 low-power DSP core that is required for always-on listening. You're not going to see this feature enabled on lower tiered chipsets.
  • Dafuq!! How the Moto x can do it then? If it's powered by 1.7 ghz instead of 2.2 ghz? And with iOS 8, users can activate Siri with voice on any iPhone from 4s... This is cheating!!
  • The Motox X incorporated the low power cores into their chipset. It's a modified Snapdragon S4 Pro specifically designed for voice activation.
  • are you sure they can activate Siri by voice on 4s? I remember a while back of hearing MotoX was getting some specific hardware to enable voice activation, so I guess this is what that report was talking about
  • Right now, Siri cannot be activated by voice on any iOS device. iOS 8 is bringing this feature, but your device will need to be plugged in to make it work. I guess it is a significant drain on battery.
  • I'm sure if they have the time they will find a way. I think it is one of those things that are harder to do without too many compromises so they will leave at last just in case they have the time and resources to do it. So there might be a chance.
  • Great! So it can compete with Google now :) I use both and this is a very welcoming feature.
  • They should enable it for BT only, IMO. That's where it's most useful, and you wouldn't have to worry as much about the mic having always on capability. I would rarely use it on my phone when I'm holding it anyway, just like I don't really use the voice commands much when I'm holding it, but when I have BT connected in the car or at home it's really convenient.
  • This.
  • I find disapointing that the current Cortana unlocks my phone in my poket when I use it via BT. The previous voice commands on WP8 did not, and were actually useful to use. If I have to take the phone in my hands, at least half the usefulness is gone for voice commands...
  • How do you mean? The only difference I've noticed is that it no longer says "I turned on driving mode for you" when driving mode turns on (I kinda miss that). As for starting apps etc it seems to work about the same. Except that Cortana is much more accurate. Though to be honest what I mostly use it for is text dictation and starting music, so I am not well versed in the differences in voice commands between TellMe and Cortana.
  • It fully works on my BT already. Press and hold the answer button until you heat a beep, Cortana opens and takes commands ❤
  • Right, I know that. This article is about how to get it to activate WITHOUT pressing a button.
  • really? i need to try that
  • This was earlier confirmed by Joe belfiore.
  • We should be allowed to decide the phrase
  • That would be too difficult for Cortana. Then it may lead to errors
  • What would yours be?
  • Hey sexy.
  • +1020
  • +1320
  • That is a great idea! I would just say "Hey Cortana" and have her reply "Yes Demitrius?"  (then I'd ask a question) even when the screen is locked (via a settings toggle to enable Voice Activation to work under the lock screen). That way, I could just look at my phone and ask a question.
  • My biggest gripe is if I'm using my wired headset and I hold the talk button Cortana comes up but my phone is in my pocket and apparently then gets cancelled by my ly leg hutting the back button or something. Why doesn't the proximity sensor work when its in my pocket? I can see the screen lit up in this scenario its frustrating.
  • Yeah, that's my problem too. For me it's verry Microsoft-like to remove a useful feature, as the previous WP8 voice commands were useful with BT headset. Cortana needs to show off on the screen, defeating half the purpose.
  • It's beta. I'm certain this will be fixed. I've already mentioned it to them as well on twitter. Someone also created this issue in the Cortana uservoice so go vote it up.
  • i suspect proximity sensor not kicking in could be because the firmware hasn't been updated yet
  • I will love it.
  • +1
  • While activating if she would reply yes chief or yes with out names then it would be briliant
  • It's already very useful for the lazies (like me) on the Xbox One. I do it everyday when I just want to watch Netflix. This is my most requested feat for Cortana in the future.
  • Would love to have voice activation
  • I can't wait. This will be helpful and much needed for me.
  • Yep that's what I'd really like. Especially for driving I thought car mode when it's charging would be a good setup... Mind you I'd like a UK version of Cortana first...
  • Battery drain ftw. Constantly listening for the activation phrase... I would rather have an option in driving mode, activated when "on charge" in car cradle for example.
  • Optionail
  • Exactly. It's already a battery drain using Cortana as it is without adding a constant listening function to it.
  • That's why it needs special hardware, like the X8 chipset in the Moto X.
  • So I hope they make it optional!!! OMG!
  • Yes, I would love this for those "in the shower" or hands full type moments.
  • I encourage passive voice activation, but I can wait for it. Never really thought of pushing the button as a hassle.
  • Holding one or tap twice to open it.
  • How come Microsoft didn't think of the from the beginning? Anyway, very reassuring, that's for sure.
  • It's not a matter of thinking of it, of course they did, it's a matter or prioritizing features in design. You can't do everything in a beta. Not even Google had this at first and Siri still doesn't. Cortana can go on all Windows Phone 8 devices. Cortana with passive voice? Maybe 5% right now. To me, that doesn't sound like a 'get this out on first release' type of feature.
  • At least Microsoft is thinking.
  • I have an Icon now...I can't imagine getting another phone for quite some time unless it hovers overhead, records everything and has defensive weapons onboard.
  • "Hey Cortana"
    e.g."hey Cortana, what does my day look like today?"
  • Yes, it would definitely be a reason to get a new phone. I'm hoping the Lumia 930 supports that feature because that's the one I want.
  • Awesome!!!
  • I think it would be awesome, if we could set the passive activation word by ourselves. It would be amazing if I could activate it by saying "Heads up, Jarvis"
  • This will be awesome! Great for when you're in the car or just don't have your hands free.
  • First they need to fix the dam Cortana, (whatever you want) resulting in friggin Wi-Fi On\Off. Gotten so bad I've turned Cortana off.
  • When UK gets it I'll let you know what I reckon
  • I think, passive voice activation will need extra sensors. So that means current devices are not able to get it. :(
    We have to buy a new one.
  • Or make the search/window button live while asleep for non 800 Snapdragons.
  • just what i was thinking
  • @ash : Waiting for it ! ;-)
  • Should be something like: "Hey, Cortana" to wake her up.
  • Suddenly u will hear Cortana say when u call her. OMG, what do u want now! Things like that :)
  • I like this idea and while I do like my 1020 I am ready to upgrade, really interested in what McLaren looks like
  • Yes, but please Microsoft, keep or improve the insanely good camera!
  • For older devices atleast do like this,
    Once we open cortana app(via tile or search button) microphone should stay on till we close the app or till display times out, now cortana stops listening once it completes the query,for next query we need to press microphone button again, its bit cumbersome.
  • Would my 1520 pass the litmus test for passive voice activation? Somebody help.
  • yes it does
  • I want passive voice activation. I've caught myself wishing I could just say "Cortana, send a text to..." or "Cortana, open..." already. Mostly, I just think of where the future goes with this -- I want to be able to say, on my way home from school or work or wherever, "Cortana, set the thermostat to 74 degrees in the living room," or "Cortana, open the garage door," or whatever else comes up. How close we are to the "smart homes" that were touted in the past is just great!
  • Ok Google Now go to hell.
  • "Hello Cortana"
  • Now, Cortana makes sense
  • Fuck cortana.
    They have to release it for everyone before everyone charting about it
  • Agreed..
  • Helpful comment.
  • I would love to be able to say "Cortana my dear," to wake her up. Although my wife might be a little jealous. Lol!
  • Does anyone know where I can submit feedback to WP? I've been using WP8.1 on my Lumia 1020 for a couple months and after the most recent update my phone's email freezes when browsing, and internet explorer scrolling freezes consistently. Also the other day my Phone was receiving texts but my replies (though it showed as sent) were not sent until after I restarted the phone.
    These problems were not so until this most recent update.  
  • Why choose the comments section of this article to ask that question?
  • If they can somehow do it with minimal battery drainage, that'd be a major boost for WP all around the world. The easier (lazier) you make it, more people love it. :D
  • But If my phone has password lock? Anyone could be able to send SMS around without my permission?
  • Don't worry. After saying "Hey Cortana" the phone will put your voice through vocal recognition software, scan your iris and fingerprint and ask you to input a 16-digit passwordall in the space of 17 seconds. Then it will redirect one of Microsoft's custom-built weapons satellites to geostationary orbit above your position that will vaporize any unauthorized users.
  • I want... "Cortana, shut up!" to turn off my alarm in the morning.
    "Cortana, pickup" incoming phone call.
    "Cortana, hangup phone"
  • In Windows Speech Recognition there was a feature calles "Macros" that I really enjoyed which allowed you to create custom commands for WSR. It would be great if they could bring this to Cortana, but it would probably take up to much memory or someting
  • Now we reasonate...
  • They could have it respond to "Bing", because no one says that in normal conversation. /I'll show myself out.
  • Don't let the door bing you on the ass... Doh!
  • Would definetly buy such a device !
  • This is what I had been waiting for! +720
    but for this I had to buy a new phone? Sounds stupid. :(
  • Yes, you'd have to buy a new phone with a compatible chipset to get this feature.
  • Would be wonderful if Cortana is enabled for this.
    There should be an option for Bluetooth auto answer after a call comes in. Also if the caller is in the contract list the name should be read out to us along with the option of accepting or rejecting the call through voice.
  • It does this already
  • The choice add a truly unusual name, Cortana, instead of a silly sound-alike, Alyx, is going to stand them in very good stead.
  • Great! Welcome to 2 hour battery life.
  • Say something like "hello cortana"
    And she woke and answer "hello neo what can i do for you" would be great
  • Great
  • "Hey Cortana...."
  • sure its great ...
  • I wud be gr8 if location based remiders are incorporated in whatsapp n other social networks like fb n twitter..!!
    Then no AI would be even closer to CORTANA...!!
  • It has to be something natural, not like "Ok Google" which just sounds odd Something like "Hey Cortana" would work, although it would get the iBots really riled up
  • Hey Daniel, will it work on Lumia 920?
  • no it will be available for Snap Dragon 800 and up, your 920 has SD S4.
  • Passive voice command could be "Start listening Cortana"
    Same as voice recognition in windows 7
  • Ick no. Not natural enough Anywho, WSR is probably going to be replaced with Cortana come Windows 9
  • I think a way to do that is to have an personal activation phrase, and not an fixed and generic one..
  • Turn on/off feature + customizable phrases/keywords...but limit them.
    (eg. Hi, Cortana/ What's up, Cortana/ Listen, Cortana/ Open, Cortana)
    Have around 5 "keywords" so that it will limit the number of false positives. But have the user select only "one keyword" to use.
  • "Hey Cortana" will do just fine... :)
  • Damn you beat me to it.  LOL.  Hey I totally agree with this guy.  
  • As long as it only responds to "your" voice. If it picked up other people (if they knew the key phrase) then it'd have major security issues. I wonder if Google Now is good enough to get around that? This is also coming to Siri, so again is Apple good enough to prevent other people breaking into a phone pretending to be the owner? I also don't think saying "something to think about" means they are actively working on it. But they should be,
  • siri has this feature in the car only, i guess
  • The new "Hey Siri" feature will only function when the phone is plugged in, probably to preserve battery life. Although with a more efficient chip the iPhone 6 will probably have it active all the time
  • Implementing voice recognition biometrics would be the most "secure"...but there are problems surrounding this technology due to high false positives and negatives. -also, it is very resource dependent...
    But then again...if voice recognition patterns are going to be implemented/stored server side instead of on the phone...would people even want to use it then? lol.
    However, I'll bet a million doll hairs that this is the specific reason why Samsung wants to buy Nuance (which powers Siri) right now.
  • All that needs to be said for this is "Hey Cortana" 
  • What about privacy if the microphone is on 24/24h?
  • good question! i think that the government can turn your mic on whenever they want to.  
  • It will be fun using the Nokia Luna to bark out orders to Cortana.
    But, there's no Nokia Luna in Hong Kong, where I'm from.
    Save me, our beloved Dan.
  • It is not legal in California to touch your phone at all when you drive (even when using navigation software) so passive voice activation is a must.
  • i really wanted this feature, since the first day when i knew what does personal assistant on a phone mean. Cortana for ever  
  • Now am happy even though that this feature might not be available for my 925, but at least it still shows that MS cares
  • Great idea, I think that together with bigger batteries and a good wake-phrase it could work well
  • This is Great! It would be working on lumia 920?
  • Well logic is nice, but it should have different ways of voice activation like only saying "Cortana" sounds interesting. Due to this, we will have three ways to activate Cortana
    1. Pressing search button
    2. Pinning Cortana to start screen 3. Simply say "Cortana" sounds better to wake her up.
    Now everything is,on WP developers who are working to build her.
  • I hope it is customizable. I so want to address it as "Computer" in a Scottish accent.
  • Old news. Joe Belfiore announced this weeks ago with the mention it will require hardware changes not possible on current devices.
  • They should test this out on Android and iOS first.
  • Surely this doesn't only involve keeping your microphone on at all times, but also the processor, at some level, to recognize whatever the microphone is hearing? How is adding such gimmicky features going to help, with the pathetic charge densities on batteries? Then again, Microsoft doesn't have much choice. If the competitors have it,it has to, too, or it will be left behind.
  • Wish I could yell Cortana at my Xbox instead of yelling Xbox.
  • I want this...being able to set up a reminder simply by saying, "Cortana" would be frekkin sweet! TerTer says YES!!
  • How is this news? I thought they had always listening tech in the original Cortana announcment. Then they announced the 930 and were completely silent on that aspect...
  • I read that as "Microsoft working on passive-aggressive Cortana voice recognition."
  • Why not just "Hey, Cortana"? Simple, quick, easy, and not a statement you'll find people saying and accidentally activating all the time.
  • Pakistani version please
  • Hate to break it to you but that might never happen. They still haven't got bing maps for Pakistan. I've lost hope they'll ever get those and Cortana either
  • Pakistani maps is cause of some security reasons shown by Pak government while i don't think that government may have any issue with Cortana...
  • Meanwhile Lumia 630 got worse review by engadget, they simply say "The Lumia 630 is one to avoid". 
  • Pakistani version please
  • Maybe the phrase should be ''Ok bing'' . I mean how many times have your ever mentioned bing in a conversation 
  • +500 lol
  • I think passive voice activation would be another asset to compete with Google Now and Siri, both of which now have this feature; albeit iPhones may need to be plugged in first, something I DON'T want to happen with Cortana!  This REALLY NEEDS TO HAPPEN because we don't want potential OS switchers/users to say, "well Windows Phone doesn't have this feature and Apple/Google phones do."  However, to avoid possible accidental launches of Cortana, hense reducing battery consumption, the activation should be something that is easy, yet not likely to be said unless actually utilizing Cortana.  I think a friendly "HELLO CORTANA!" would be perfect.  It both greets Cortana in a way a boss might greet his assistant and is a phrase that isn't likely to be used unless you are actually asking for her assistance.  Also, another OPTION would be to enable "BLUETOOTH ONLY" activation.  In other words, the user can OPT to enable voice-activation only when the phone is connected to a bluetooth device.  That way, it will not use battery power until you are connected to say your car while driving, or bluetooth headset while jogging with your phone in your pocket.  Of course there are those who would want voice activation ALL THE TIME, which, of course would be possible for them by simply turning off the 'BLUETOOTH ONLY' feature.  CUSTOMIZABLE VOICE-ACTIVATION - something neither Google nor Apple currently have.
  • Give this man a job already!
  • Seems like the accidental activation would be avoided if it would recognize your voice print since everyone's voice is unique. The crazy part will be down the line when Cortana ends up on all devices. If you are sitting in your room with your xBox, Surface, and phone, which device will respond when you ask Cortana a question?
  • Good question.. Button I don't mind pushing.
  • So the idea would work great with the phone touch technology they where talking about earlier on then..
  • What if you calibrated the passive command to only your voice? On setup have you say "Okay Cortana". It uses your voice "signature" only for passive. For manual voice commands then anyone can use it.
  • I love the idea. I'm disabled and I was jealous this last weekend of my brother in laws Moto X for this exact reason. He admits he pretty much never uses it because his job is to loud. But I sure would love it on Cortana!
  • Also his Moto X must gave some calibration because it would not respond to any of us drunks trying to imitate good voice. :)
  • Sounds very useful in the car, or in other situations where you don't want to touch your phone (dirty hands while cooking or eating) either way if Microsoft is planning on making the best voice assistant such that it becomes the next big way of interacting with devices, it will need this feature.
  • Nice when driving
  • Just be sure to do two things. 1) Allow for a different set of casual start ups. ("Hey, Cortana" And maybe even something like "Cortana I need you to do something for me.") I don't want it sounding stupid when I'm doing it. "Cortana on" would sound really ridiculous. 2) Have her respond to me instead of just making that noise it makes when it's listening. I can't tell you how many time I screw up in the car using Cortana cause I can't hear that noise playing. Having her respond with a "What can I do for you?" or even just a "Yes?" would make things much easier and nicer.
  • +1520 good brotha
  • Hey Cortana... Simple as that!
  • "it will most likely only work on newer Snapdragon 800" My Lumia 1520 is ready. Microsoft should develop voice recognition so that Coranta answers to me only.
  • I'd like something natural, like Hey Cortana or Cortana can you..... or Yo, Cortana.
  • My macbook Can do this to. say ok macintosch. mac says. change what? of ok what can I do? but deffently going to buy an new phone. still stick an 2yrs old winPhone by htc. Want the new Lumia 10serie 1030?
  • No no no no no..... Windows is becoming a spy like Google and iPhone....ask your local police what they can do with your phone you will be amazed.
  • Honestly I hope that the R&D that they put into passive voice activation for Cortana turns into less power being used for the Xbox One to hear ONE PHRASE. It is stupid how much energy the Xbox One needs while it is in Standby.
  • That's great now all we need is snap mode for the Lumia 1520 and it perfect
  • I prefer to use active voice, even when addressing a computer.
  • I hope that Microsoft adds voice to text in on the 8.1 keyboard and allows it's use on all keyboard applications. If they truly want Cortana as a personal assistant,then the A.I. is going to have to improve where conversation can take place between the two.
  • You can use your voice to text. There is a button to do so. Voice to text is based on app support not keyboard support. So, if an app allows you to use voice then you can use voice. You can use voice to text either through cortana or pressing the button on the lower bar on the thread you are in.
  • Pull up ur socks Microsoft before everyone finishes the race
  • I would love to see this with the 3D touch in my McLaren lol
  • They should allow activation of passive voice only in driving mode.
  • Daniel, how will this be implemented? The Moto X has a contextual co-processor; afaik, Windows Phone handsets don't.
  • Been wanting this feature forever!! "Ok Google Now" is the stupidest/cheesiest thing ever! I hate when my buddy says it. I understand its a balance between making it something that won't come up in a usual conversation(so it doesn't accidentally come on) but is still natural /easy. I'm down with "Hey Cortana" or "Cortana".
  • Long pressing the search button activates cortana right away, there's no need to press search and then press the mic button!
  • You can even do this on the locksreen
  • That's not the point, the point is, to be able to be sitting at your desk or a dinner table, etc and just say your command, rather then having to grab your phone, hold the button, then say the command.
  • Cortana?
  • Is snapdragon S4 higher or lower than snapdragon 800?
  • I bet android and ios will get passive activation ahead of us
  • A question outside the thread, forgive me my friends: "have you noticed that when you ask Cortana for example who is Bill Gates, she reply with voice, and I tried out for other celebrities too and it worked". I tried this before the last Windows phone 8.1 preview for developers update and it wasn't working. Thanks
  • I have been waiting for this feature. I for one would love this! Bring it!
  • There are 3 thing that the Windows Phone team need to do especially since cortana is suppose to be personal.
    1. Allow 3 different option of when Cortana can be activated by voice. Always (voice activation is always on), Charging (only when device is charging. Gotta have this option for the people who want to conserve energy), driving mode only (for people who just want to use it while driving), and off (always off).
    2. Option to change the default activation phrase by speaking a new phrase into the mic. Should have to put on the pass code to do this though.
    3. They need to have options but obviously have a default setting a phrase and default setting of turning on only when charging.
  • You can turn it off for saving battery.
  • How about just calling her by her name.
  • User definable passive activation is needed.  
  • Yes yes yes,
  • i would rather say wakeup n thngz get done . watn fr thz feature soon
  • Did you just seriously call Cortana an AI ?
  • Keep linking with the franchise - so role reverse in this case and instead of 'Master Chief - wake up' it could be triggered on 'Cortana - wake up' or make it something around how the Master Chief would get her attention...
  • I love the Ads turning on people Xbox One haha, but as for Cortana I would love this! I'm thinking something like "Cortana, _______", or a custom "Command", so I could set mine to be "Hey, ______" (Witch wouldn't be a smart command, since "Hey" is regularly used lol), but a custom command would be nice, or just have the user say "It's [YOUR-NAME], _______" or something. Either way a custom message or the Name option would be best, so someone can't run into a building your in and tell "CORTANA, TEXT MOM I GOT A GIRL PREGNANT!". He would have to know your specific command or name. But if you have some dick family or friends who know... Well sorry for you!
  • voice activation is great and I send many suggestion about this features to MS. like saying "hey cortana" for activation or make a name for my phone like "pit" "jessi" "hulk" or anything to activate the cortana. and then 2 new feature for cortana that I will suggest is: like "what's up?" then cortana read all the notifications for you and "what time is it?" then cortana say the time and date. these are simple but very useful features. you can know anything without even open the smart case of your phone while you are lying on the bed.
  • This sketch typifies the Scottish experience with voice recognition:  When I ask Siri or Google Now for directions to a nearby burn, "the Turret", I get directions to electricians in the next town, a hairdressers in a nearby city and once a timetable for somewhere I'm guessing was Austria.
  • Would be great while driving
  • This is good news. MS have got so many great devs and creative people, sometimes i wonder why its takes them so long to add better functionality to the OS.   WP8.1 is great, but still lacks in some areas. now i hope the final version will make it shinier. I believe the app opening, switching should be much faster, im using a Lumia 925 and sometimes it takes a few secs.   but im loyal, and im staying with my WP, simply because i love it!
  •    This would be perfect and would give it feature parity with the Moto X. I would love to be sitting on the couch and just say, "Cortana" to activate a feature and have my phone initiate it. The sooner the better.
  • I have been hoping to see this feature for years now. In my case, its cause I ride a motorcycle. I have my phone conected via bluetoth to the headset on my helmet. However, I need to remove my left hand from the handle bar and tap the phone in order to wake it up. With the new passive voice activation, I can keep both hands on the bars. I`ll simply speak to wake Cortana up and have her do what I want done. It may not mean much to some of you. But this is HUGE! for me. Been wanting/waiting for this for so long.
  • Sounds good.
  • It would be nice if you could make a custom recording of what you would like to say in your own voice. 
  • Meanwhile, check this out.. "Jarvis", not as comprehensive as Cortana, but something fun & useful to play with...
  • This is great but the ? I have is does Cortana have the capacity to start third party IM apps? I would expect the standard ' Cortana text .........' and it starts the network texting function using your data plan. I wonder can you receive an IM from let's say whatsapp, viber, facebookmessenger, bbm for argument's sake can you see the message and tell Cortana to reply using the msg app? I've seen many Cortana vids and none has addressed whether I can say Cortana open whatsapp and text ......., and it does just that. Can anyone tell me whether it's possible for Cortana to reply to texts through our instructions from any third party IM apps?
  • What about sth that u can modified, for ex, by defect "hello Cortana," but after that u can change that. U can change the way u want cortana wake up. We are talking always that WP is personal, cortana cant be the exception..., Cortana is MY personal assistant..., so, by defect "Hello Cortana!" Or "Wake up Cortana" but after that, the owner can change that as the way he want..., i guess..., i suggest
  • I guess "listen Cortana" would be the best thing to say
  • ohh great 
  • This is a must for Cortana!
  • Yes Indeed please do develop a voice activation. I'd love to be able to say  "Activate Cortana" or "Cortana Assist" or something like that... That would make it way too cooler. I wish it works on my Lumia 925 but in any case I would not mind urgrading my phone. This would be a convenient feature to have.
  • "The one caveat to this feature is when it arrives, it will most likely only work on newer Snapdragon 800 and higher chipsets"... Not really. Most, if not all, Android phones are able to carry Google Now - and a simple, 'OK, Google [command]' is all that it takes to get your groove on. There is no reason at all why Cortana cannot be made available to all 8.1 phones. Making it work with the screen off is another thing entirely, but I really don't think that would be a problem if 'Glance' was activated.
  • Want to hear a joke...Windows Phone.