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May 5, 2014

The hidden tricks of Cortana

Much more than your very own personal digital assistant, Cortana is smarter than you think…

Not that long ago, having a conversation with your Lumia might have sounded fantastical. Today, many of you are doing it (if you’re on the developer program, that is!).

While we’re hugely impressed with Cortana’s ability to learn our interests and keep track of stuff that matters, she (yes, Cortana is a she) is cleverer than that, as we’re about to demonstrate.

Let’s start with some of the most common commands or questions you’d pose:


You: ‘Who are you?’

Cortana: ‘In short, I am your personal assistant. I try to make things easier to do on your phone.’

You: ‘Set an alarm tomorrow at 9.’

Cortana: ‘Your 9:00 AM alarm is now on.’

Straightforward so far. However, because Cortana understands context, you can keep the conversation going.

You: ‘Cancel my alarm.’

Cortana: ‘Tap the alarm you want to turn off.’

She’s also pretty adept at location and mapping…

You: ‘How do I get home?’

Cortana will launch HERE Drive showing you the route to your home.


Beyond basic and contextual instructions, there are plenty of extras to experiment with:

You: ‘Sing me a song.’

Cortana: ‘I can sing this one: Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.’

You: ‘Tell me a joke.’

Cortana: ‘A ham sandwich walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve food in here.”‘

You: ‘What do you look like?’

Cortana: ‘Some things I resemble: a hula hoop, a donut… a halo.’

You: ‘Which is the best smart phone?”

Cortana: ‘Oh, come on, chief. Windows Phone.’


You: ‘Which is better, Siri or Cortana?’

Cortana: ‘Not to brag, but apparently I’m going to help save the universe in about 500 years.’

You: ‘What is love?’

Cortana: ‘It’s on my to-do list of emotions. I’m still working through serenity and apprehension.’

You: ‘Open the pod bay doors’

Cortana: ‘I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.’

You: ‘Which is better, Google or Bing?

Cortana: ‘Bing bing bing! We have a winner!’

You: Why should I buy this phone?’

Cortana: ‘Reason number 47: it’s not all about productivity, it’s about fun, too.’

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cortana and you’ll often receive a different answer to some of the less-serious questions.

Cortana is currently available on Windows Phone 8.1 developer’s preview and only available in the USA, with a wider launch at a later date.

Want more Cortana questions and answers? Here’s an update.