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Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Cortana features leaked for Windows Phone 8.1


Cortana Digital Voice Assistant for Windows Phone 8.1We recently got a clearer idea of how Microsoft plans to implement Cortana, their digital voice assistant with  the Windows Phone 8.1 update. Now Cortana's grammar library and language packs have also leaked giving more information on what we can expect from Microsoft's answer to Siri and Google Now.

Cortana Voice Library

Even though Cortana itself wasn't released as part of the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, the grammar library which will be used by the digital voice assistant has been included by Microsoft. There are options to call contacts or numbers, play media files, send texts, or search the Windows Phone Store. There are also the requisite options to get weather info, stock prices, do conversions, get news, find videos, find recipes, or find places. On the personal assistant side of things, you'll be able to set alarms, create calendar appointments, take notes, and set reminders.

  • "Call Mom"
  • "Call on speakerphone"
  • "Call at home"
  • "Call, mobile"
  • "Call"
  • "Text"
  • "Message Dad"
  • "Text on my way"
  • "Put dentist appointment on my calendar tomorrow"
  • "Change my 3 PM appointment to 4"
  • "What do I have next?"
  • "Add surfing at the beach for Sunday"
  • "When calls, remind me to say congratulations"
  • "Remind me to buy fresh fruit tomorrow"
  • "Remind me to water the plants when I get home"
  • "Next time I'm at the grocery store, remind me to buy eggs"
  • "Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning when I leave work"
  • "Take a note"
  • "Note: left my car on level 4"
  • "Take a note: find birdwatching book for Dad's birthday"
  • "Wake me up at 6 AM"
  • "Set an alarm for 5:45 AM"
  • "Turn on my 3PM alarm"
  • "Wake me up in 20 minutes"
  • "Play"
  • "Put On"
  • "Play"
  • "Start Playing"
  • "Show me a map of 123 Main Street"
  • "How far to the Grand Canyon"
  • "Is there a Starbucks near me?"
  • "What's traffic like on the way to work?"
  • "Is it hot in Rio de Janeiro?"
  • "Will it rain this weekend?"
  • "Do I need an umbrella?"
  • "What's the weather right now?"
  • "What's the forecast for next week?"
  • "Show me today's headlines"
  • "What's the latest news about the President?"
  • "What are the top stories?"
  • "Who is the tallest woman in the world?"
  • "Who is the president of Finland?"
  • "Show me events nearby"
  • "Convert 60 dollars to yen"
  • "How are the US markets doing?"
  • "What's the value of Microsoft stock?"
  • "Find recipes for clam chowder"
  • "Look for breakfast burrito recipes"
  • "How many calories in a cucumber?"
  • "How many carbs in a blueberry muffin?"
  • "Find Angry Birds apps"
  • "Wake me up at 7 AM"
  • "Wake me up in 20 minutes"
  • "Schedule camping for Friday through Sunday"
  • "Put dancing on my calendar from 6 to 7 PM"
  • "What am I doing next week?"
  • "What do I have this afternoon?"
  • "Move my next meeting out by 30 minutes"
  • "How did the Asian markets do?"
  • "Find recipes for ants on a log"
  • "Look for butternut squash recipes"
  • "Get me cat videos"
  • "Find a libary"
  • "Get me directions to Times Square"
  • "Show me highly rated restaurants nearby"
  • "Find cheap restaurants that are open right now"
  • "Find nearby bars"
  • "Will MOMA be open on Monday?"
  • "Where am I?"
  • "Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning"
  • "Remind me to water the plants when I get home"
  • "Next time I'm at Home Depot, remind me to pick up paint samples"
  • "Is it cold in Moscow right now?"
  • "Will it be sunny in Paris tomorrow?"
  • "Is it going to rain this week?"
  • "Do I need a coat?"

It is not known if this list of commands will expand with the final release of Windows Phone 8.1,  But, even if it has the standard set of functionality that you might expect, that should make for a great first release for Microsoft.


Cortana may support 15 languages at launch

Some information which has been extracted from the Windows Phone 8.1 emulator has found a number of language pack files in it for Cortana. In total, there are 15 languages/regional language variations that could be supported by Cortana at launch. The language packs found in the emulator include: German, English (UK, US, and India), Spanish (Spain and Mexico), French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese (Cantonese, Hong Kong, and Taiwan).

There have been conflicting reports on Cortana offering multiple languages, with some sources confirming that the voice assistant will only offer English at launch.


More Cortana speech, emotion and features revealed

The language packs for Cortana, the Windows Phone 8.1 voice assistant, was released yesterday, which gives us 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. Halo fans will know why Microsoft chose this name for their digital voice assistant, and while we feel its a clever choice, its good to know that Microsoft is giving general users a choice to select a name that suits their interests and personalities...

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
  • Considerate, 
  • Sensitive, 
  • Satisfied 
  • Abashed (embarrassed)
  • Thinking
  • 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, from 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 contradicts the possibility of multiple language support at launch. This means that Cortana will be English-only at launch. 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.
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