Microsoft Takes On Apple’s Siri With Cortana For Windows Phone Along With Other Goodies

At the BUILD 2014 conference Microsoft, the maker of Windows Phone Mobile Operating System (OS) unveiled the latest version of the OS; Windows Phone 8.1.

The Redmond based company has infused a lot of goodies for the devices that sport the OS. The most prominent one of the features will have to be Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, a voice activated virtual personal assistant. The updated devices will also get a new Action Center, as well as support for customizable lock screens and backgrounds. The new update is expected to arrive “very late April or early May” reported TheNextWeb.

Microsoft Showcased Cortana For Windows Phone 8.1

Cortana (Microsoft’s hugely popular game HALO has a AI character named Cortana), a personal assistant along the lines of Google Now or Apple’s Siri now completely replaces the earlier ‘Search’ in Windows Phone, quite unlike Google, who chose to keep the default search alongside its Google Now offering. However, the underlying search engine will still be Microsoft’s Bing, reports Time.

Fortunately, users can still opt to search the old fashioned way, but the company claims Cortana is much more intuitive and a fast learner. In fact, launching her (It’s apparently a female just like Siri) takes you straight to a list of personal suggestions based on how one uses the device.

While still in Beta, Cortana offers a simple Notebook to instantly jot down notes. Android users will quickly realize this feature resembles a lot to the ‘Magic Wand’ in Google Now. Apart from search with Bing, Microsoft has also incorporated data from restaurant and associated services review platform Yelp.

 Joe Belfiore Shows Cortana's Features

Besides offering answers to standard queries about the weather and the world, perhaps the most useful ability of Cortana has to be its adaptability to third–party apps. At the BUILD 2014 conference, Microsoft showed of Cortana’s ability to seamlessly work with Facebook, Skype, Hulu. The company is hoping that Cortana’s scalability will be readily accepted by developers to build apps for the Windows Phone OS.

The other notable revision was to the Action Center that now offers a lot more information at just a glance. The revised Action Center for the Windows Phone now has 4 customizable buttons and ability to display a variety of information depending what the app developer wants. Microsoft seems to have listened to its audience and offered the ability to set any custom wallpaper to their home screen. However, the wallpaper will still be underneath the as yet opaque ’tiles’.

Microsoft has been trying hard to enhance adoption of its devices. The Inquisitr had reported about the company waving off licensing fees for Indian smartphone manufactures in the bid to encourage adoption. Now that the company is catching onto the features long existent on other competing platforms, will Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS gain substantial users?

[Images via TechSpot and TechnoBuffalo]