The Windows Phone 8 update was, despite a lot of coverage, quite underwhelming in terms of features, especially given how long Microsoft had spent applying improvements. However, from what we’ve been seeing through leaks and word-of-mouth, the forthcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will provide the OS with some much-needed rejuvenation, and as well as a whole new Swype-like keyboard, notification center and other such niceties, the next update looks also set to feature Cortana, Microsoft’s very own Siri / Google Now incarnate. Today, new screenshots have emerged of Cortana in action.
One of the benefits of arriving late to the party, as Microsoft has done in the fiercely-contested mobile arena, is that you don’t have to make so many of your own mistakes. By assessing what works and what doesn’t, which Microsoft can do simply by looking at iOS and Android, the Redmond giant can get its mobile software up to scratch far quicker than it has taken both Apple and Google.
Indeed, with regards to Cortana, the last we heard is that it would take some of the more popular features of both Siri and Google Now, offering a well-rounded, ‘best of’ voice assistant based loosely on the Cortana voice assistant character from the Halo series.
Today’s screenshots, which have hit the blogosphere courtesy of The Verge, don’t give too much away, but nevertheless, offer an interesting insight into how things are shaping up.
The main interface consists of a circular, orb-like graphic that animates when processing information, and much like Apple’s Siri, will have its very own ‘personality’. Thus, when you throw Cortana a few questions, you might get some cynical / humorous answers back, but since this has proven quite appealing with Siri, it should work once again on Windows Phone 8.1.
Cortana’s character, as those of you familiar with Halo will probably have guessed, will be female, although unlike in the game, you won’t see her face.
With Bing and Foursquare integration, Cortana will be able to find information contextually, and with the Notebook feature able to save certain data, info and behavior, it may well turn out to be the most complete voice assistant service we’ve seen to date.
Let’s just hope Microsoft gets this right in the first go, rather than leaving it half-baked like how the original release of Windows Phone was.