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July 2, 2014

A Day in the Life: 24 Hours With Cortana

How can Cortana, your new digital assistant that’s part of the Windows Phone 8.1 update coming soon to Lumia phones (Cortana starting in the U.S.), help you get through a typical work day?


We’ve sketched out one scenario ….

7 a.m. You’re woken up by your Lumia smartphone’s alarm and you feel refreshed — you asked Cortana last night to let you sleep in an extra 15 minutes.

7:10 a.m. You ask Cortana for the outcome of yesterday’s baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds. Cortana tells you that the Reds beat the Giants 4-0. As a Giants fan, you hope that doesn’t bode ill for the rest of your day.


7:45 a.m. While eating breakfast, Cortana tells you to leave 15 minutes earlier to get to work because traffic is a nightmare. She also suggests to bring an umbrella — a summer storm is forecast late in the afternoon.

10:25 a.m. You’re at your desk when Cortana reminds you of an important client meeting. You ask for directions to the client’s office. Not only does she gives you the most direct route, Cortana tells you how long it will take to drive there. You grab your laptop and head out the door.

10:40 a.m. Once at your destination, you ask Cortana to take a note: “I parked at the corner of 6th and Main.” She replies, “Got it” and pins the note to your smartphone’s home screen for easy reference.

11 a.m. In the meeting, you get a couple of phone calls from colleagues and one from a friend about a surprise birthday party for his wife. No worries. Cortana texts them that you’re too busy to answer the phone.

11:05 a.m. Since you’re in a meeting, you can’t talk to Cortana without disrupting conversation. But you can text her. So you send Cortana a text reminding you to buy a gift certificate for your friend’s wife the next time you’re near her favorite day spa.

1 p.m. Lunchtime. The meeting is over and you’re famished. You ask Cortana for the nearest sushi place. “It’s a half mile away,” she replies, and the place has received glowing five-star reviews. Perfect!

4 p.m. You’re back at your desk and two colleagues in the office next door are talking loudly. Not only that, just as Cortana predicted, it’s raining cats and dogs.

The raised voices and drumming sound of rain hitting the window make it hard to work. You put on your headphones and ask Cortana to play your “summer downtempo” playlist on your phone. Soon, all you can hear is the dulcet voice of Adele crooning in your ear.

6:20 p.m. On your drive back home, you stop at a gas station to fill your tank. Cortana reminds you to pick up your husband’s allergy prescription at the pharmacy nearby. While you’re there, she says you can also pick up your suit at the dry cleaner’s next door. Done.

7 p.m. Time for dinner and you don’t feel like cooking. “Pizza!” your kids cry. You relent. You ask Cortana to call your favorite pizzeria, and she dials the number while you peruse the take-out menu. You order the usual: Two large pepperoni pies, extra cheese.

9 p.m. It’s way past 5 p.m., but Cortana works when you do. So you tell her to add your friend’s surprise birthday party to your calendar. Cortana happily complies.

10:15 p.m. You’re watching a TV show and a song plays that grabs your attention. It’s moody but also kind of catchy. You’ve heard it before, but can’t remember the song’s name nor the artist who performs it.


“Cortana, what song is playing?” you ask. She listens for a moment. It’s “Freddie Freeloader” from Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue album. Cortana even shows you the album cover: It’s of Miles playing the trumpet. He looks intense.

11:30 p.m. Time for bed. You ask Cortana to wake you 45 minutes earlier than usual so you can squeeze in a 5-mile run before work. She makes note of it and doesn’t even tell you that the last time you tried this, you slept right through the alarm.

6 a.m. Bzzzz! The alarm goes off. You almost hit the snooze button. But then Cortana reminds you that you wanted to exercise. So you lace up your running shoes and head out the door.

7 a.m. Back home after you run, you feel great. Energized! Cortana shows you the top news headlines of the day as you drink a cup of coffee. You get a little too engrossed in reading and lose track of time. Cortana politely reminds you to leave for work a bit early again because of traffic.

At least it’s not raining.

Curious about Cortana?
We hope this gives you a glimpse into how Cortana can help you through your day. Do you have any questions about her?

Here’s your chance: Next week, we’re going to sit down with Marcus Ash, program manager for Cortana (here’s a recent story about him), to learn more about this new digital assistant. We will pick one or two questions from you, dear readers, to ask him.

So put on your thinking caps. What do you want to know about Cortana?