Cortana, the digital assistant that is set to make its debut with Windows Phone 8.1, is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Siri. While Cortana is late in entering the digital assistant game, Microsoft wanted to create something unique and useful. Cortana is being touted as the “most personal smartphone assistant” that learns your interests and helps keep track of all that matters, but did you know Cortana was given a hint of attitude?
To develop Cortana, Microsoft apparently spoke to a number of “real personal assistants” and learned that they kept track of the interests and preferences of their bosses in a notebook. So Microsoft thought, what if Cortana curates all the stuff in Cortana’s Notebook, which allows Cortana to be proactive and helpful throughout the day. Cortana is voiced by Jen Taylor, the same lady who voiced Cortana in the popular Halo franchise.
Microsoft apparently used a team of screenwriters to create some of Cortana’s responses, adding a touch of attitude and some wittiness. For example, if you ask Cortana to marry you, she replies by saying, “Among a handful of challenges, I don’t think the Supreme Court would approve just yet.” When asked who her daddy is, she replies, “Technically speaking, he’s Bill Gates. No big deal.” A team of writers with experience in writing film scripts and science fiction wrote lines of dialog for Cortana, even adding some nods to Apple and Google.
“We’re going to get compared competitively,” Microsoft stated about Cortana. “We want to be respectful, but we also want to have some fun.”
Cortana is powered by Bing and learns over time as it asks you questions based on your behavior. Cortana will check in with you before she assumes you are interested in something. She can also detect and monitor the items you care about and “looks out” for you throughout the day, even going as far as filtering out the noise so you can focus on what matters the most to you.
Cortana will be made available separately from Windows Phone 8.1 as a Beta in the US very soon. General release of the digital assistant will be during the second half of this year for those of you in the US, UK, and China.