Cortana digital assistant features and functions

This article provides information on the many functions of Cortana, the Microsoft digital assistant available on Window 8.1 OS smartphones.


Most of us have extra busy schedules, so much so we often find it tough to keep track of things. Even getting our schedules organized becomes a chore. Thanks to the handy digital personal assistants of our smartphones, we can now find it easier to be up to date on important events, organize our notes and even get directions to the venue of meetings. A recent addition to the slew of personal assistants available is Cortana, a Microsoft creation which is available on Windows 8.1 phones and is likely to be available on the new Windows 10 edition too.

Female by gender, Cortana was born from the company's Halo video game character by the same name. The voice of the American version of the digital assistant is that of Jennifer Lee Taylor, the same voice star behind the game's character voice. The avatar appears on the screen in the form of circles within circles. These become active as per the task performed – talking, listening, searching, etc.

Cortana icon image

Cortana multi-tasking functions

Cortana performs all the tasks of an efficient secretary by listening to your voice & answering too when required. Of course, you do have the option to simply type out messages, in which Cortana will be a silent spectator.

Cortana not only helps you to make calls, send texts and take notes but ensures you get regular alarms and reminders for important stuff. Even your general interests related to movies, gadgets, etc are taken note of and Cortana will help you find updates on these specific interests. Additional interesting things that Cortana does for you:
  • Ensure you get detailed directions to a venue with updates on any traffic snarls. You are thus aware of how much time you should get a head-start on to be punctual. That way, an important client is not left cooling his/her heels and leaving in a huff at your tardiness.

  • Jogs your memory by reminding you to perform a specific task , such as buying flowers for your sweetheart.

  • Gives you an update on the climatic conditions whether it is for the next day, a week ahead or in some city on the global map where you are heading.

  • Let's you know about some offbeat dining establishments or weekend getaways to help plan an quick itinerary out of town.

  • Makes sure that your "me" time is sacred – no interruptions whatsoever when you don't wish to be disturbed except by those who matter such as your family.

  • Feeling low and need somebody to talk to? Cortana can be your listener – share your angst, give some views and lighten your mood with a funny story.

  • Stores all your data, including location, interests, reminders, etc in the Notebook feature. However, the control of such information is in your hands. You can view the information and delete anything which you feel Cortana should not know about.

How to find and use Cortana

Your personalised digital assistant is just a tap away!
For first time users:
  1. Go to the Start Screen

  2. Tap the tile
    Press the Search button

  3. Give a name by which Cortana can address you (this is optional)

  4. Answer questions asked of you, such as which movies your like (you can skip the Q & A session if you wish)

To find Cortana at any time: simply press the search button and you can use the microphone icon to talk to her.


Presently Cortana is available a tap away for Windows 8.1 users in USA, China and UK. Those who have used her efficient help have given a big thumbs up to her personality. They love the fact that the user has privacy control to decide on what to share and what not to share. Smartphone users are hoping that this lively assistant will soon be available on a global scale and not restricted to a few countries.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is a freelance content writer with over 15 years experience in this field. As Managing Editor of reputed education portal, she has plenty of responsibilities but nevertheless finds time to indulge in her favourite past-time, namely writing! Hence she has her own blogs to follow her writing passion while here at she writes mainly about gadgets, smart devices and apps.

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