With all the rage that are Siri on iOS and Google Now on Android, Microsoft is, unsurprisingly, working on a personal assistant feature for Windows Phone, codenamed “Cortana” after the popular Halo character.
Evidence of the feature initially surfaced in June, found as an app called zCortana app, but wasn’t given much thought back then. Cortana will let Windows Phone users interact with a device through voice commands, and learn and adapt to user preferences automatically, similar to Google Now. It will reportedly be central to the “service-enabled shell” for Microsoft’s devices, such as the Xbox One, Windows Phone, and Windows 8.
The Verge was able to get hold of a few screenshots of an early build of Cortana, which show off some of the things it will be able to do, such as pulling in all notifications (likely synced with the dedicated notification center), weather information and automatic weather alerts, syncing calendar events, and more. There’s even a screen for controlling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and also setting the polling interval for location access, so it looks like Cortana could be a central hub for a lot of varying functionality.
Microsoft has had quite a lot of time to study the workings of both Siri and Google Now, and the screenshots suggests that Windows Phone’s digital assistant might go a few steps further than what Apple and Google offer. It will likely debut in the Windows Phone 8.1 Blue update next year, though whether the feature is called Cortana in its final form remains to be seen.
Are you excited to see Cortana in action? Hear her wake you up in the morning with “wake up Chief?”, in the same voice we’ve come to love from the Halo franchise?