One of the most impressive features found in Windows 10 is the addition of Cortana. Cortana is a voice-controlled virtual assistant and knowledge navigator for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It is based on Microsoft’s previous voice technology called TellMe, purchased by Microsoft in the year 2009. It isn’t just a voice controlled personal assistant but you can also type commands and questions too.
You can use Cortana to set reminders, send emails, find files, get weather forecasts, tell you jokes, surf the Internet and so on. Comparable to Apple’s Siri and Android’s Google Now voice assistants, Microsoft’s Cortana uses Bing search engine and data stored on the user’s phone to make recommendations. But that’s not all that this wonderful application can do. Here’s a list of some really simple yet handy things Cortana can do.
Cortana has a strong built-in reminder feature. To get started, use keyboard shortcut ‘Windows key + c’ or click the Microphone icon in Search option. Use the Reminders icon or say “Remind me” to get started. You can set reminders based on time, location or a person. Some examples of these various reminder types are listed below:
- Time-Based Reminders:
- Remind me to get the laundry in 2 hours – This will remind you to get the laundry in the next two hours.
- Remind me to go to the doctor tomorrow morning at 10.00 – This will give you a reminder to visit the doctor at 10.00 am the next day.
- Location Based Reminders:
- Remind me to talk to Melissa when I get home – This recognizes your location and gives you a reminder to talk to a specific person when you’re nearing a specific location.
- Remind me to get cash when I am near any ATM – This will help you locate any ATM terminals around you and remind you to get cash when you’re near one.
- Person Based Reminders:
- Remind me to ask about the party next time I talk to Ms. Rose – This will remind you to ask about the party whenever you get a call from Ms. Rose, or whenever you make a call on her number.
Use Natural Language Search:
Cortana helps you to find files on your computer or in OneDrive using Natural Language capabilities. You can simply type sentences in the search bar to tell Cortana what to search. The biggest advantage of using natural language search is that you can give more specific commands. E.g., you can ask Cortana something like, “Show me the pictures from WhatsApp folder from May 2nd”, and the application will locate all the photos from the 2nd of May from your WhatsApp folder. It is much easier to use than the old search operators, which required specific filenames and keywords to locate a particular file.
Just like Siri, Google Now, Shazam and other dedicated apps use Cortana to identify a song playing near you. Simply ask, “What song is this?” and Cortana will use your microphone to listen to the music to identify it to a specific song. This feature works well with recorded music but can also identify several live performances from various artists.
Check for Flight Schedules and Track Courier Packages:
Using flight number and tracking numbers, Cortana can track flight timings and packages instantly. Simply enter your flight or tracking number in Cortana’s search to get the necessary details about your flight/package. This is not only much handier and convenient than making calls or visiting specific web pages for information, but also makes Cortana a must have tool for Windows.
You can launch programs instantly using Cortana by simply saying “Launch ”. You can also activate your apps and direct them to perform a specific action or command, executed within the app using Cortana. If you have “Hey Cortana” voice command shortcut active, you can simply say “Hey Cortana, launch ”.
Use Cortana to send your important emails. Just say “Send email” to get started. You can be more specific like “Send an email to David” if that person is in your contacts list. Cortana sends emails using built-in email app and the email accounts you’ve configured with.
Get the Directions:
You can also ask for directions using Cortana. Just speak “Directions to ” and it will point out the location on the included maps along with directions from your location.
Windows 10 users are using these amazing features of Cortana to make their lives easy. Microsoft is presently working on bringing Cortana to Android and iPhone devices. Once it’s done, Cortana has all the potential to become the most used voice-controlled personal assistant for Mobile devices. You can expect more extended services with newer versions of Cortana for Android and iPhone, as Windows users are already enjoying the services ahead of their time.