2There Is Something in Cortana’s Name
What is in a name? When it comes to Cortana, quite a bit actually. The service was named after the artificially intelligent character in the video game series “Halo” and even sounds like that character. Beyond that, there are several similarities between the two. Cortana in both the game and in Windows Phone provides pertinent information without necessarily being asked, can be a trusted companion for daily events and is, in general, a useful personal assistant.
3Cortana Makes Phone Calls and Places Texts
One of the nice things about virtual personal assistants is that they take the heavy lifting out of simple tasks, like placing calls and texting. Cortana is no different. When users boot up Cortana, they can simply ask her to call a person and specify a number. Plus, users can choose to send a text message and dictate exactly what it should say. It’s a convenient feature for the busy professional.
4It’s a Personal Assistant in the Purest Sense
One of the core elements of any personal assistant app is calendar integration. And Cortana includes several features on that front, including the ability to quickly add events to a calendar, as well as change times by saying, for example, “change my 3 p.m. event to 4.” In addition, Cortana can be asked what’s up next or what’s going on during the weekend and will automatically share details on future appointments, if set to do so.
5Cortana Keeps Track of You
Cortana does a good job at keeping track of users. As users employ Cortana over time, she learns habits and provides all kinds of useful information. For instance, she may remind users to perform a task or immediately take action based on where the person is. Cortana is supposed to be the “smart” virtual personal assistant that tends to get smarter over time.
6Look for All Kinds of Useful Suggestions
One of the nice things about Cortana is that she comes with useful suggestions. So, if a person needs to get to an appointment, Cortana can automatically seek out traffic information to see whether the standard route is really best. Cortana may also provide some suggestions on places to go around town.
7Cortana Will Save Key Information
As noted, Cortana likes to learn about the user. One of the best ways to teach her about yourself is to feed her information she keeps. So, for instance, if you are particularly interested in baseball, she may provide some news updates in that space. In addition, Cortana can be taught what places are your favorites and suggest them when she’s asked for places to go. She’s even capable of tracking gym activity and suggesting workouts.
8Cortana Knows Who’s Important to You
One of the core features built into Cortana is “Inner Circle.” The feature allows users to input the names and information of people who are important to them, giving them special privileges. So, for instance, users who don’t want to be disturbed can tell Cortana to turn off all calls and texts. But people within the Inner Circle may still be allowed to get through. Inner Circle is a great way to weed out those who may not require the same level of attention as friends and family.
9Cortana Works With Bluetooth-Equipped Vehicles
Cortana can be a handy in-car personal assistant. Once the handset is paired with a Bluetooth-enabled car, users can talk to Cortana through the vehicle, asking for directions, information on traffic and more. All of the features built into Cortana are immediately switched to hands-free in a car so users won’t need to press a button or even interact with their phones to get the app up and running.
10Bing Plays a Central Role
11Cross-Platform Integration Could Be Crucial
Microsoft is expected to improve Cortana later this year with the launch of Windows 10. Chief among those improvements could be enhanced integration across its many platforms. It’s currently unknown whether Android and iOS would be included in that tie-up, but enabling Cortana to synchronize her knowledge base across devices and operating systems is a compelling feature. Cortana is useful on a single device, but if all that knowledge could be brought to everything from an iPhone to a Windows desktop, that’d be an extremely appealing feature.