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February 16, 2015

Listen up! Hey Cortana sets your hands free

Introduced last year with Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana, your digital personal assistant, is now even easier to talk to thanks to the Lumia Denim Update and “Hey, Cortana.”

“Hey, Cortana” is a built-in system app that allows you to go totally hands-free from your Lumia.

While activating and talking to Cortana* was already easy—tap and hold the search button–Microsoft thought there was an easier way.

So instead of pressing the search icon or tapping the Cortana Live Tile, you can simply say “Hey, Cortana” to initiate your personal assistant. Using passive-voice activation, similar technology available on Xbox One with Kinect sensor, your phone listens only for the words “Hey, Cortana.”

By default, “Hey, Cortana” is switched off, as you need to train it first.

Samuli Hänninen, General Manager, Software Program Management for Lumia at Microsoft explains how to train this cool new feature and how to use it:

“Once you’ve received the Lumia Denim Update on one of the supported devices**, head to Settings and ‘Hey, Cortana’ to tell the app how you say ‘Hey, Cortana.’ Cortana is your personal assistant, and training her helps the system work better with your voice.”


Once activated and trained, you’re all set to continue to use Cortana without the need to touch your device. “Hey, Cortana” is always on, making it possible to talk to Cortana even if you have the screen lock on, if your Lumia is sitting next to you on the couch, or even if it’s out of reach at the other end of your work desk.

Samuli gives us an example:

“Imagine waking up in the middle of the night wanting to know what time it is. ‘Hey, Cortana’ will make this really easy for you and you don’t even have to lift your head off the pillow. As long as your phone can hear you, you can activate Cortana by simply saying ‘Hey, Cortana’.”

“Hey, Cortana” is still in beta and we keep improving it to integrate it even better with the operating system and to optimize battery performance. So stay tuned for updates!

*Full version of Cortana is available in the U.S., but it’s also available in “beta” in China and the UK and in “alpha” in Australia, Canada India, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

**Lumia Icon, Lumia 930, and Lumia 1520.

Video credit: Carlos Camino Sosa