Like Siri to the iPhone and Google Now to Android, Microsoft is now introducing it’s own little personal pocket assistant, Cortana. If you’re familiar with Halo, then the name Cortana should of course ring a bell; if not, well get ready to say hello to your new handheld sidekick.
Easily accessible and activated using voice recognition, Cortana can be used for just about anything from creating and announcing reminders, sending and reading text messages, making phone calls, and searching the web. Cortana will even be able to monitor and scan your usage data to create custom reminders, such as flight information from your email and things that you might not put on your calendar. Cortana also comes with a “Notebook” that gives users the right to block and/or grant her access to specific information, so that the user can protect their privacy.
Cortana will primarily receive “her” information from Bing and Foursquare upon launch, but Microsoft hopes to expand to other online services in the future.
Cortana will be included in the Windows Phone 8.1 update set to launch within the new few months. You can find a comprehensive list of all Windows Phone 8.1 update features here.