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More on Cortana's speech, emotion, and features

Posted: , by Michael H.

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More on Cortana's speech, emotion, and features
The language packs for Cortana, the Windows Phone 8.1 voice assistant, was released yesterday, and there is a lot to learn from it. We already found out that Cortana could very well have full support for 15 languages/regional language variations when it is launched. Now, we're getting a better idea of what Cortana will say, the variations in emotion, and more features that we can expect.

First, it seems you'll be able to name Cortana anything you want. Frankly, we'd suggest the name Cortana, but it will be up to you. We learned a couple days ago that Cortana would have emotion, but at the time we only heard that the circular icon that represents Cortana would be animated to show that emotion. Now, we're learning that there will likely also be tonal shifts in how Cortana responds based on emotional cues. The code shows 6 emotional states for Cortana (the names of the states don't always give an accurate representation, so we've added descriptors where needed): considerate, sensitive, satisfied (excited), abashed (embarrassed), thinking (thoughtful), and sorry. We would assume that Cortana's natural state will have some wit and humor, like Siri, which could explain why that isn't there. 

A community member, Hobel, at The Verge has gone through the entire file, and has made some observations on what we should expect from Cortana. Here are the highlights of what Hobel found:

  • Cortana has been designed to sound casual and personal. 
  • There will be multiple ways to phrase the same message to avoid repetition. 
  • Cortana will use a fair amount of slang (at least in US English). 
  • Cortana will have back-and-forth interactions to clarify commands or questions, and to gather more info for things like alarms, rather than punting you into the alarms app and having you fill out the information. 
  • You will be able to save nicknames for contacts through Cortana. 
  • It will offer multiple ways to view calendar information including for one day, a weekend, or more. 
  • You can change event information, and if you are about to double-book yourself, Cortana will warn you. 
  • There is a phrase in the file which has Cortana warning "I can't do this while on a call", indicating it will be available while you're on the phone, and you will be able to use Cortana to turn on the speakerphone. 
  • You can search for messages either by contact name or with a phrase that would be in the message.
  • You can assign speed dial numbers and use those to call contacts.
  • Cortana will ask "Send it, add more, or try again?" after you dictate a message.
  • When you receive a message, you can say "read it" or "ignore". After reading it you can say "reply", "call" or "I'm done".

Hobel does mention that the language files for other languages are not present, which could mean that the report we just filed is incorrect, and Cortana will be English-only to start. Still, this is an impressive list of features, especially when considering that this only covers the local commands, and doesn't touch on questions and commands that you'll be able to use when running through Bing. 

We'll be adding all of this info to the enormous log of what to expect from Windows Phone 8.1. This is shaping up to be an incredible update. 

39 Comments
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posted on 22 Feb 2014, 17:52 3

1. sip1995 (Posts: 758; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


You can also rename Cortana's name in whatever you want.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 17:56

2. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Yeah! I was just talking about that.. You read WPC?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:09 2

7. sip1995 (Posts: 758; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


Yeah...i also read wppoweruser.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:30 3

9. akki20892 (Posts: 3306; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


So I'm not that guy who is alone.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:59 1

12. akki20892 (Posts: 3306; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


wmpoweruser Lol u put p instead of m.
Windows mobile power user. Now they should change windows phone power user.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 19:09 1

13. sip1995 (Posts: 758; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


I know and i think it's better :)

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 17:58 7

3. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Looks like MS wasn't lying when they said that they really wanted Cortana to be different than say Siri, and Gnow..
.........................
If all these leaks are true, grain of salt, then Cortana should be the most advanced... Sometimes being last is better.. In this case I would say so..

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:00 4

4. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Dunno, nearly everything I've seen is already in siri

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 19:34 5

14. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Exactly.. Nearly.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 20:19

18. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


I don't know you, but I said this when siri arrived, I don't want my "digital assistant" to pretend she is exited over something, or happy about something, unless they have developed an actually thinking assistant, talking to your phone for pre-cooked replies is kinda gimic, might be fun the first 100 times but then it's simply in the way

Let me put an example

You: is it gonna rain today?
Straightforward assistant: yes, its 60° and a heavy rain is expected
assistant: pack your coat! Today we expect some cats and Dogs falling from the sky *giggles* oh and its 60° babai

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 20:54 2

19. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Yeah, but MS has stated that they want Cortana to be much more contextual, smarter, and have common sense... Somthing that competitors don't yet have...
Cortana is supposed to evolve over time as it learns you.. And, the options to control Cortana just aren't present in other platforms... Just give credit where credit is due! What's so hard for some of you guys to do that? Obviously Cortana is the most advanced to date.. Just admit it, and quit always worrying about if WP is actually putting up some serious competition for your platform... Get over it..

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 21:52

24. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Dude you are basing your statement on rumors, and code, you know about 20% of Google now's code is not active yet?

Like I said again an assistant that learns your habits its already there, both siri and Google now are at it

Google now for example evolves with you, the names of people it had a hard time pronouncing now sound perfect, when I'm around a restaurant it recommends me dishes, when I do a search of a news topic it keeps me updates with follow ups, tells me if trafic to work is fine and at what time should I leave, reminds me of peoplea Bdays as well as anything I set a reminder for (both time and location based) keeps the scores of my teams, and tells me about deals on the places I have set on my google walet, and most of that without me noticing at all, maybe you should actually try what the competition has in hand, and trust me its not the first time I've heard "product X will be awesome based on leaks and codes and bla bla bla" don't go around hyping your expectations on things you don't know yet

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:10 1

26. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


So, you're saying that Cortana isn't going to be better than Google now?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:40

28. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Not at all, but with the information provided by the rumors it will be about even, like sireI and Google now will have its strong points ad well as its weak points, being late to the party means you have to start making a database while the other two are sitting on piles of data. It will be a nice assistant, but it won't be groundbreaking and will take time to get there, it won't magically become the best there is, specially if it had the lower usage stats

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 00:58 1

32. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Have you ever heard of Microsoft research?.. MS may be the last to add this to WP, but they have been working on voice recognition longer than Google, and Apple.. Heck, the tell me service on my phone has been around longer than any other platform, but MS has been working on much more advanced recognition services on the side for a long time.. I wouldn't be surprised if Cortana blew both G.now, and Siri out of the water...
.......................
We'll find out soon enough....

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 05:23

36. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Yet their dictation feature pales

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:50

30. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


And you may ask why am I so doubtful? They said the same thing about windows phone voice type, compared to iOS and android offering it paled (I'll look for the video, gimme a sec)

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 00:14 1

31. tigermcm (Posts: 693; Member since: 02 Sep 2009)


um MS doesnt really need to build a database heard of TellMe?

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 05:21

35. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


For an assistant with a learning curve this is needed

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:02

25. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Also you know what common sense is? I don't think any low LVL AI its close to be considered having common sense, you should be able to tell a marketing stun apart from reality, it could analize data in a coherent way but to think an AI has comon sense (any AI on that matter) and it's able to fit on your phone its quite laughable

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:12

27. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


That whole thing you just wrote was the longest run on sentence, and it didn't even say anything... How do you do that? That's skill!

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 22:45

29. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Because common sense and computing go way back, you can give a computer a human body and tell it to go die out of rage, it will grab a knife and kill itself in front of you, common sense its such a strong word to define any AI, at all but will make (with a few quirks) a great marketing stun

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 00:59

33. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Something big is gonna happen... Just wait.

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 05:24

37. protozeloz (Posts: 5372; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


I won't hold my breath though

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 19:00

38. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Nobody's asking you too.. Just enjoy Android..

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:01 2

5. papss (unregistered)


Looks better and better as the days go on. This summer can't come soon enough.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:04 1

6. cripton805 (Posts: 913; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


For some reason I think Cortana is behind the Nokia X being called Normandy... Cortana being on such a low end phone with high end features? But the physical hardware is lacking, so it's a double edged sword with it half dull.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:17 2

8. jojon (Posts: 72; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)


WTF>>?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:34 2

10. akki20892 (Posts: 3306; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Huh........??????????

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 18:52 2

11. Ikechukwu (Posts: 134; Member since: 03 Oct 2011)


O.o I can't figure that stuff out. What is he trying to say?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 19:36

15. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


What is the Nokia X/Normandy?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 19:45 1

16. akki20892 (Posts: 3306; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Watch Nokia on MWC you will knew it what that is. I guess Nokia X=One.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 20:00 1

17. cripton805 (Posts: 913; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


The Nokia X / Normandy is Nokias first android based phone with lower specs than a Lumia 525. It's rumored to cost $120.

If you know about US history, the attack of Normandy during WW2 is a historic date. Hence, Nokias "attack" on Google/Android. That's why it was nicknamed Normandy we assume.

Like I said, the Nokia X, might use Cortana on it's rumored Nokia X/Normandy as an attack on the low and high end android phones. If "Cortana" is revolutionary on such a low end device.

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 20:56 1

20. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Are you really explaining what the Nokia Normandy is too me?.....
................
Really?

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 21:23

21. lyndon420 (Posts: 1713; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


I welcome all the advancements in voice recognition no matter where it's coming from. I can't wait for Google's attempt at recreating the famous star trek enterprise computer. If they can pull that off it will be ultimate :-)

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 21:36

22. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


If these companies start to battle it out in AI then that would be awesome!!!.... Now, that's one area MS finally isn't behind in.. Lol!

posted on 22 Feb 2014, 21:41

23. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3519; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


iRobot sounds good, Android just makes sense, but would you like the sound of a "Windows Robot"... Lol!!!!!!!!!
......................
They better call it LumiaBot or something.... Lol!
......................
When I picture a W.Robot I just think of that robot on Rocky 3.... ;-);-)

posted on 23 Feb 2014, 04:13 1

34. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2502; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


I wish Cortana comes to Android :) Though I'm pretty sure it won't

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:42

39. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 847; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)


"Cortana will ask "Send it, add more, or try again?" after you dictate a message.
When you receive a message, you can say "read it" or "ignore". After reading it you can say "reply", "call" or "I'm done"."

You realize that this is what WP does now right?

I just hope they improved the speech engine dramatically to be more like Google's and Apple's which does a worlds better job dissecting what you say (including punctuation) and translating it to text.

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