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Cortana: Who She is and What She Does

The Microsoft teams have been working very hard on the Windows Phone 8.x platform trying to advance the product and give us a phone we not only love to use but can help us be more productive at the same time. One of the biggest features to date is the introduction of Cortana to Windows Phone 8.1 which should be releasing soon, if not already, for all windows phones.

Who is Cortana?

Cortana is your very own personal assistant! She is only on Windows Phone, powered by Bing, and is the only digital assistant that gets to know you and the things you do. She builds a relationship with you and uses the things you ask her, detects and monitors stuff you care about, and overall looks out for you all the time like a true personal assistant.

Getting Started 

To use Cortana you will first need to be on Windows Phone 8.1. From there you can find Cortana as a live tile on your home screen or if for some reason you do not see her you can find her in your app list. Alternatively you can also press the search key once to open Cortana or press and hold for her to appear and be ready to listen. 

On your initial opening of Cortana she will ask you basic questions and try to gather some information about to get things setup to better assist you. Like anything the more you are able to give her the better of an assistant she can be, but if at any time you want her to forget something you can easily access her note book and delete some information.  

Using Cortana

Once Cortana has some information on you you’re ready to go! You can start having Cortana help 
you with a variety of things and over time she will start helping you. Some basic but powerful things you can do is set reminders for yourself. Not only can you set a reminder for a time but with Cortana you can set a reminder for the next time you talk to someone or the next time you leave or arrive at a specific location. She is able to add events for you on your calendar, make phone calls, text people, and looking something up for you among other things.

An outstanding feature that most have not experienced on platforms is Cortana’s ability to understand natural language. What this means you do not have to give Cortana chopped up sentences or certain commands in order for her to be able to understand you. This means you can say something like “Remind me to order new business cards when I get to work” and, assuming you Cortana your work address, Cortana will pop up a reminder for you when you arrive at work in the morning.

How She Helps You

Once Cortana has learned more and more about you, not just knowledge but habits, she is able to easily help you with day to day things. One of the biggest thing for professionals is the commute to work or traveling for business. Once Cortana has learned about you she can help you out by giving you traffic alerts, weather updates, and even things such as flight delays to help you plan accordingly.

Having Some Fun

Being focused on work and productivity all the time gets boring though and sometimes everyone wants to cut loose and have a little fun. Luckily the Microsoft teams working on Cortana definitely did not let us down. Like most phone assistants they are created with a couple fun replies, but with Cortana she pretty much has her very own personality with a slew of things to talk with you about and keep you or your friends entertained for awhile!

Cortana is originally a beloved character in the video game Halo who carries over some of her wit from the game to your phone. Along many common things you can ask or say to her like “I love you!”, “What are you made of?”, and much more she also has a ton of Halo questions you can ask her as well for a fun tie. Never fear though there are so many out there currently that I tried to round up as many as I could for you here.

Quiet Hours

Among many other features, Cortana comes with a quiet hours feature. This allows you to set those hours that you do not want to be disturbed and Cortana will handle your calls and texts so you have some quiet time. But in case of an emergency what happens.

Fortunately the developers thought of this also and allow you to create your very owner inner circle. With this you can add people in that you want to have the ability to get a hold of you all the time, especially those times when you have quiet hours, that way Cortana does not block and you can handle the communication promptly.

Third Party Apps

Unlike more phone assistants Cortana has the ability to interact with third party applications. She can do things such as place a call through Skype, add or play a show through someone’s Hulu Plus account, or do things with Facebook. This is a huge win for develops and opens up all kinds of possibilities for apps in the future.

Final Thoughts

As with most phone assistants she is not perfect but definitely one of the best right out of the gate. She is constantly being developed and enhanced to function better and be able to assist her users even more than she already can. Cortana is quickly becoming a game changing feature for the Windows Phone.


Wiz E. Wig, Mascot & Director of Magic
Wiz E. Wig

Director of Magic