We have heard just this week that Cortana has a host of features that will allow it to know what its user’s needs. The latest leaked information about the Windows Phone 8.1 allows us to have a sneak peek of Cortana in action.

Recently, UnleashThePhonescooped a video of Microsoft’s counterpart of Apple’s Siri. The video is of just two minutes but reveals a good amount of information about the upcoming digital virtual assistant.

After Cortana introduces herself to the user, it suggests that she “can help make life a bit easier” for the user. Then the personal assistant asks for permission to access the user contacts, location, and voice input from email, text messages, calendar, search, among others.

Just like the leaked information before, the demo shows Cortana asking the user for a nickname he wants to be called. Then the digital assistant tries to get to know the user by asking some of the most mundane of questions from enjoyable things one does, about food choices to motivations and what section of the newspaper to read. Then, it saves these information and ready to go.

According to earlier reports, the Cortana will learn the behavior of the handset’s owner as it is being used. It saves important information into a Notebook so it can tap data quickly and know what the owner might need before even asked.

Too bad that we cannot hear how Cortana sounds but another feature showcased a “do-no-disturb” or “quiet hours“ mode that the digital assistant named after the artificial intelligence character of the Halo game can manage. On these designated quiet hours, Cortana can silence any notification, text messages, or even calls. However, just like the setup for the iOS, the quiet hours can also automatically enable calls or set to automatically reply to text messages.

By the way, Cortana will require the user to sign in into a Microsoft account. After all the initial data collection and tweaking, there will be a live tile on the home screen of the Windows Phone 8.1 device. When one taps the Search button of the phone, Cortana will be switched onto listening mode and be ready for the user’s requests and commands.

Definitely, Cortana is a work in progress and what we see in the video might be a beta or prototype of the digital assistant but it is still a good teaser of what the market expect from the Siri and Google Now alternative.

The Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to be rolled out during the developer conference of Microsoft in April.

Be it Siri, be it Google Now, be it Cortana, it seems that these personal assistants will be the core feature of mobile devices in the future. They will be like our buddies that can help us with anything that we want, from finding the direction to point A, booking a restaurant, reminding us of appointments, among others.

Just like how FastCompany puts it, there is somehow a stereotyping that is happening, with voices of women being used for such secretary-like software. The site talked to Karin Hibma, a branding expert who has named products such as TiVo and Kindle, who thinks that the digital assistants today are so named because of their creators.

According to Hibma, the makers of the digital personal assistants gave the software names that will make them comfortable. Somehow, the unusual names, work for easy recall of consumers.

According to Hibma, it would have been better if Microsoft can come up with a better name than Cortana. Who’s for the name of the OS in the Oscar-winning movie “Her” So, Samantha?


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