Speech assistant Cortana to replace Bing in Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft plans to replace the Bing search engine in Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana, a voice assistant that would compete with Apple’s Siri. Users could exercise control over what data is available to Cortana.

That says The Verge, which has obtained information about the voice assistant from sources at Microsoft. It is striking that Cortana seems to be taking the place of Bing when Windows Phone 8.1 is launched: according to the site, the search button on devices with Windows Phone 8.1 starts Cortana instead of Bing. Cortana does use Bing’s search engine. This seems to be similar to how Google has implemented its Now search and information service: on supported Android devices, a long-press of the home button can be searched directly via Now. Incidentally, Cortana would also contain information from Foursquare. It is possible that in time information from more third party apps can be plugged into the digital assistant.

The Verge also reports that Cortana will be provided with a ‘personality’. For example, the service must be able to respond to natural language, similar to Apple’s Siri. In addition, animations are shown that correspond to the state of mind that fits the questions that the user asks. No images have been released yet.

Users could be in control of the data Cortana can draw from. In a so-called Notebook, users can indicate what can and cannot be accessed, such as location data, personal data and contacts. The system would be able to learn from how the smartphone is being used and that information would then be stored in the Notebook. In this way, users should be able to easily delete collected data if they wish.

Earlier there were rumors that Microsoft is working on a voice assistant that is similar to Siri from Apple or Now from Google. Cortana was not spotted in a recently released software development kit for Windows Phone 8.1, but the functionality is believed to come with the upcoming version of the mobile operating system.