More details on Microsoft's Siri-like digital assistant Cortana

Windows Phone 8.1 update will include new voice-control search functionality, according to new report; could it also come to Xbox One?

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Image credit: The Verge
Image credit: The Verge

According to a new report today from The Verge, the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will introduce Microsoft's long-rumored "Cortana," a digital assistant that will rival Siri and Google Now. Sources provided images of the interface and details about how the service will work, stating that it will replace the currently built-in Bing search.

Of course, gamers will recognize the "Cortana" name from the Halo series. In those games, Cortana is an artificial intelligence character who appears in holographic form, but on Windows Phones, Cortana will reportedly take the form of a circular animated icon (above) that will animate while speaking or thinking.

Similar to Siri, Microsoft's Cortana will reportedly allow Windows Phone users to determine how they want to be addressed, either by your real name or a nickname. The Verge's sources also note that a key component of Cortana is its ability to save information like location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information to a Notebook system. The Cortana system is also reportedly capable of tracking flights and various email services and can generate notifications to users.

It's unclear if Cortana is the final name for Microsoft's new technology, but the company is expected to formally announce the service at its upcoming Build conference in April. It is also unknown if Microsoft will roll out the Cortana service on consoles like the Xbox 360 or Xbox One, but according to a past report, that's exactly what the company is planning to do.

The Cortana technology will reportedly allow users to ask questions and see results in real-time. In an Xbox context, players could ask, "What are my friends playing?" and their friends list would appear. The service is supposedly going to be voiced by none other than Cortana voice actor Jen Taylor.

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