Microsoft has unveiled a new feature called “Cortana” for Windows Phone devices at Build 2014 Conference in San Fransisco. The voiced based virtual assistant is almost similar to Apple’s Siri and can provide information similar to Google Now app. This is one the new feature coming to Windows 8.1 among several others. The updated operating system will come with new phones in about a month, including three that Nokia announced Wednesday. It will also be available as a free download for existing phones a few months later.
Microsoft is also updating its Windows 8.1 system for tablets, laptops and desktops. The new update called “Windows 8.1 Update” is designed to make it easier for those with traditional keyboard and mouse controls and will be available starting next Tuesday.
Cortana is also powered by Bing, when you sign in on the web. Bing.com will give you access to the things Cortana tracks for you, like your weather, stocks, news, and flights. Cortana gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something, claims Microsoft. Cortana also promises to give you more ways to customize it. While Google Now will alert you to upcoming travel by scanning your email, Cortana will ask whether it should offer you such alerts. That might reduce unwanted alerts, though it will require more work to set up.
Cortana will be able to interact with 3rd Party Apps installed on your phone. You can ask Cortana to help you make a video call in Skype, watch a TV show in Hulu Plus, look up a news feed on Facebook or send a tweet using the Twitter app
Microsoft said the feature is in a “beta” test mode as the company tries to improve its voice recognition capabilities. Microsoft plans to remove the beta designation in the second half of the year, when it launch in the US, the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014 with other countries to follow afterwards into 2015.
Some of the other features unveiled for upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 by the Redmond giant are ;
Start Screen to feature Live Tiles :
You will be able to customize your start screen on the windows phone devices. In 2013 Microsoft had introduced third-column for 5-inch and larger devices, now it provides the ability to customize your Start background with a favorite picture or one of the options which has been provided, which will make many of the tiles on your Start screen so you can see the background you selected as you scroll up and down.
The Lock screen too gets an upgrade and in Windows Phone 8.1 a new app is being provided that lets you set a wide range of interesting “Lock Screen Themes” which show all kinds of different visuals and animations.
Company also announced a new Action Center for the Windows Phone system as a hub for app notifications and information such as remaining battery life. Other new phone features include automatic connecting to free Wi-Fi hotspots to save on cellular data.