Rumors are swirling about Cortana, Microsoft’s new virtual assistant for Windows Phone users. And now there’s finally video footage of some of its functionality. Posted by UnleashThePhones, the footage shows some of the basic functions Cortana will be able to perform for users, as well as part of the process of setting up the assistant.
In order to use Cortana, people will have to sign in with a Microsoft account. Unlike Siri, which automatically draws a user’s name from their personal contact card, it seems like Cortana asks a user to choose a nickname that they’d prefer to be called by typing it in. After that, users will get asked a number of multiple-choice questions about their preferences. Here’s what showed up when UnleashThePhones set Cortana up on video:
- What are a couple of the most enjoyable parts of your everyday evenings?
- When you think about food, what’s most important to you these days?
- What are two of your main motivations for going out to an event/activity?
- When you want to catch up on what’s going on in the world, which section do you go to first?
Cortana also asks for access to a lot of user information, including web browsing data, location, contacts and email information to help build its profile of a user. According to earlier rumors, that information gets stored in a “Notebook,” which allows users to control what data is available to the assistant.
Interestingly, it seems like Microsoft has decided to keep the name Cortana for the assistant. It comes from the name of an AI that’s a key part of the “Halo” games, and had been used as a code name for the feature inside Microsoft. While the name has clear niche appeal to people familiar with Halo, it might not be quite as interesting or immediately appealing to non-gamers.
An earlier report said that Cortana will be announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference, alongside a developer preview for Windows Phone 8.1. With the increasing number of leaked images and video of the new feature, that timeline makes sense.
Microsoft is looking to bring new users to its mobile platform, especially as it aims to complete its acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business by the end of this quarter.