First clear look at Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1


We’ve been hearing rumors and seeing small parts of Microsoft’s upcoming virtual assistant, Cortana, for a couple of months now. In that time we have never seen what this new feature will actually look like. Today, The Verge has leaked the first clear images of Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1.

All the rumors leading up to this point mentioned an “animated circle icon” that would represent Cortana. We can finally see this icon in the top left corner of the screenshots above. It may look like the Eye of Sauron right now, but in real life it will be rotating and spinning when Cortana is speaking or performing an action. We can also see in the Settings that Cortana will be able to call you by name, and that name can be changed to whatever you would like.


Cortana is being described as Siri meets Google Now. She will have a personality like Siri, but also be able to do some powerful things like Google Now. One of the biggest features is something called “Notebook.” This will allow users to decide what information they will allow Cortana to access. Hopefully this will help people who think something like Google Now is “creepy” because it knows so much.

Short list of Cortana features we know so far:

  • Launched through Bing search button
  • Looks like a circular animated icon
  • Animates when speaking and has a “personality” and “emotions”
  • Uses Bing, Foursquare, and other sources for contextual data
  • Notebook feature to control how much Cortana knows about you
  • Learns your behavior
  • Personal reminder
  • Searches can be done with voice and text
  • Can greet you by name
  • Reacts to certain phrases in messages and emails such as “let’s meet tomorrow at 8pm”
  • Provides info on stocks, weather, direction, music, appointments, and more
  • Do-not-disturb feature
  • Inner-circle of contacts that can break through do-not-disturb


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