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Cortana 101

There’s no doubt AI assistants are becoming a normal fixture in most households. These smart home devices are making it easier to connect our devices and make our lives so much easier. But Alexa and Google Home are hogging the spotlight right now. Cortana, Windows’ AI assistant and a feature of Windows 10, might be the amazing smart home helper you didn’t know about! So whether you’re new to the smart home bandwagon, or you just didn’t realize the full capabilities of the voice-activated assistant living in your computer, we are going to give you an overview of Cortana!

Read our blog about smart home classics!

Cortana has been around since the Windows 10 release in January 2015. Since then it has evolved to support iOs and Android devices, Xbox, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the Edge Browser, third-party smart home devices (like speakers and thermostats). Currently, it is used by over 148 million people!

What is it?

Cortana is an AI assistant that’s built into Windows 10. Since Cortana’s release in January 2015, the technology has evolved to support Android and iOS devices, Xbox, the Edge browser, Windows Mixed Reality headsets and third-party devices such as thermostats and smart speakers. According to Microsoft, “we built Windows 10 to be the most advanced platform for the most natural of input methods, including voice. From Windows Hello facial recognition to voice input with Cortana, AI is deeply incorporated into Windows 10 to make your experience more personal and more secure”.

How to Use

New Windows PCs have more far-field microphones, so you can ask Cortana information from further away. Cortana will let you know the weather, hear news tidbits, let you know the score of a game, and much more. Soon HP will unveil a device similar to Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home.

But there are lots of ways you can communicate with her. You can give verbal commands, or you can type your question or command in the search bar. If you want to continue with verbal cues, go to your settings and turn on the option for her to listen for “Hey, Cortana.” From then on whenever you say that phrase, she’ll be there to help!

Why it’s so cool

Cortana can access data on your device as well as the cloud, serving as a smart hub. You can create reminders that are based on location and time and when the service is connected to Office 365, Outlook or Gmail, Cortana will suggest reminders.

Another great benefit, Cortana is able to read overviews of new emails, or you can have her read high-priority emails when they come from specific people and lets you dictate a reply with your voice. Cortana will also help you pick the time for a meeting with someone within the company. All of these features are possible using voice commands.Other awesome features include pulling information from LinkedIn (like company details, professional backgrounds, etc), creates a planner that tracks travel reservations and recommends activities for you, and helps you make lists.

Another big feature is that Cortana actually learns about you. When you first start she uses the information from your Microsoft account. There she learns your name, age, and whatever else you put in. But she doesn’t stop there, the more you interact the more she learns about you. The more you give access to your computer (email, messages, content data, movies, music and search history) the

Why is Cortana learning about you a good thing? She will take what she finds out and tailor her responses to you. She will also make assumptions about the things you need to know to streamline your day. And as you interact she will understand your unique voice better.

Useful Commands

  • Ready to get started? Here are a few of the commands you can start with:
  • Launch apps.
  • Search through your files. Just tell her the name of the document you want!
  • Turn up/down the volume.
  • Make changes to some Windows 10 settings.
  • Lock, sign out, shut down or restart your PC.
  • Set a reminders/timer/alarm.
  • Search the web.
  • Show you the news.
  • Play music (plus does music recognition!
  • Give you directions.
  • Define words.
  • Show you your images.
  • Translate.

So, are you ready to get started using Cortana? Still have questions about Cortana, Windows 10 or any other computer problems? Contact us today and we’ll help you out!