Windows Phone 8.1’s Siri rival Cortana is proving to be a great reason to upgrade early to the update, offering a wealth of useful voice-activated features, as well as a nice line in amusing, pithy responses to instructions that have little to do with booking appointments and making phone calls.
Let’s take a look at just what she can do.
Before you get started with Cortana, you’ll have to upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1. If this isn’t available to you yet, you might consider the Developer Update as an alternative.
Once this is installed, you’ll need to configure Cortana. Developer Update users will need to fudge things a little to trick the service into thinking you’re in the USA. If you’re running the full Windows Phone 8.1 update, however, this shouldn’t be a problem.
After configuration, Cortana can be opened by holding the Search button on your Windows Phone. Ready? Time to try some basic commands.
Common Questions & Commands
When you press the Search button, Cortana will be ready for you to start talking. So try “Who are you?” which will illicit the response:
“In short, I am your personal assistant. I try to make things easier to do on your phone.”
What sort of things, you might well wonder. Well, you might ask Cortana to “remind me when I get home to cook dinner for my wife.” This will depend on how you’ve configured the Cortana notebook, a collection of settings that she uses to help you. As long as she knows where “home” is, and you have location services activated she will be able to help.
Similarly, “How do I get home?” will also require location services, and prompt Cortana to send your details to your preferred satnav app, which will then open to display your route home.
We’ve covered the bulk of common, app-related tasks and native features of Cortana previously.
Like the iPhone’s Siri, Cortana has a few tricks up her sleeve, amusing Easter eggs to entertain and beguile…
Having Fun With Cortana
There’s more to Cortana than acting like a virtual secretary. She’s a fun girl to have around. When she’s not playing MP3s from your collection (“Play Led Zeppelin”) she can tell jokes and sing songs.
“Tell me a joke” will result in Cortana offering:
“A ham sandwich walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Sorry, we don’t serve food in here.'”
Meanwhile, you can ask her to “Sing me a song,” to which she will respond with:
“I can sing this one: Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.”
If that doesn’t work, Auld Lang Syn will be intoned with the words “Can you sing?” It’s not a great vocal performance, but good enough to amuse friends on New Year’s Eve!
She’s got a great sense of humour, too. Ask her to weigh up the opposition with a question like “Which is better, Siri or Cortana?” She’ll tell it like it (fictionally) is:
“Not to brag, but apparently I’m going to help save the universe in about 500 years.”
In case you didn’t know, Cortana is named after the AI assistant in the Halo games. She’s also voiced by the same actress, Jen Taylor.
Cortana’s a bit of a sci-fi movie fan, too. Remember 2001: A Space Odyssey? There’s a scene in the film when astronaut Dave Bowman orders the computer, HAL 9000, to open the pod bay doors. Try it with Cortana, and she responds (in as close an approximation of Douglas Rain as she can muster):
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
She’s perhaps less of a fan of Star Wars. Greet her with the familiar Jedi sentiment “May the force be with you” and Cortana will respond with Han Solo’s “There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny” or Yoda’s “For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”
Surprising Answers To Racy Questions
If you want more entertainment from Cortana, try these more adult questions. We’ll let you find out the responses yourselves:
Do you love me?
Will you marry me?
Are you sexy?
Who’s your daddy?
When all is done with Cortana, remember to be polite. She likes it when you say “thank you”, and you might, too.
Cortana Makes Light (Entertainment) Work Of Digital Assistance
There are plenty of tasks that Cortana can do to improve your productivity, but if you’re just looking to kill a few moments of time, her collection of entertaining answers to your less work-related questions can raise a smile.
Do you have any favourites that we’ve included here, or are there any Cortana classics that we’ve somehow overlooked?
Hit the comments and let us know!
Featured image credit: Placeit.net