Microsoft’s nascent mobile OS, Windows Phone 8, has been doing a lot of catching up with its rival but there is somewhat of a glaring omission on the platform in the form of a voice-controlled digital assistant. Rumours has it that the digital assistant would arrive in the planned Windows Phone 8.1 update which is scheduled for later on this year and that it would be named after one of the most famous characters in Microsoft’s Xbox universe, Cortana, the digital assistant to Master Chief in the Halo series.
Yesterday a new video from Unleashthephones.com showed off what looks to be a legitimate version of Microsoft’s upcoming Siri competitor in all of two minutes. The video takes you through Cortana’s setup process which, like accessing many of Microsoft’s services on Windows Phone, requires a Microsoft Account to fully function. The permissions page gives an insight into the kind of integration and the resulting tasks that Cortana will be able to perform with permission to access location data, voice input, contacts, calendar, search history, info from emails and texts, browser history and more putting it somewhere between Siri and Google
Once logged in Cortana asks you your name and whether she is pronouncing it correctly followed by a series of four questions that Microsoft says are being trialled to help it to customise results more to your particular tastes. The video shows activating Cortana both by Live Tile as well as a long press of the ever-present Windows search button. A quick trip to the setting menu also shows that Cortana will be in charge of operating the rules for the ‘quiet hours’ feature for Windows Phones which would use rules to determine when calls should be muted and the appropriate response to them.
All in all it looks like the update to Windows Phone should be a rather large part of the Build conference this year and we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the announcements next month.