Gadgets & Technology 6 years ago Share Tweet Nowadays everybody seems to be living increasingly busy lives, leaving us less time to do the day to day mundane tasks and chores that we hate. So imagine what it would be like to have a personal assistant, someone to walk our dogs, do the washing up or even remembering friends birthdays… But for those of us who cannot afford to employ a personal assistant your smart phone may now be a good substitute. Up until recently Apple led the way with personal smartphone assistants, when they released Siri on the iPhone 4S in 2011. But now, Microsoft has stepped up to the challenge with their own personal smartphone assistant, Cortana. Named after a fictional AI character in Microsoft’s hugely popular Halo videogame series, Cortana is Microsoft’s virtual assistant for smartphones running Windows 8.1 and above. In some ways, Cortana is a kind of combination of Siri and Google Now (with, arguably, more personality). She can perform task-based functions: She shows you your daily schedule, sets alarms and sends reminders. But Cortana also provides search-based information, courtesy of Bing. Cortana Like any good real life personal assistant, she’ll ask you a series of personal questions, like, “What are a couple of the most enjoyable parts of your everyday evening? When you think about food, what’s the most important to you these days? What do you look for when you want to catch up on the world?” This is so she can get “smarter” about your preferences. Cortana also makes sure that you stick to your schedule, by alerting you about important things like your flight information, scheduled meetings, and even let you know if you are scheduled to work out on a specific day, and helps you to reschedule, if you are unable to keep an appointment or gym session. Cortana also helps with little things, like giving reminders to leave home early due to traffic, or pick up something on your way back home. Just say the word, and Cortana can help you do all sorts of things on your Windows Phone 8.1, whether it’s making calls, reminding you to pick up your dry cleaning, getting answers about sports scores, stock prices or random trivia – you name it. You can start by talking naturally to Cortana about whatever you have in mind. You can even chat with Cortana about whatever’s on your mind. Ask her questions that you might ask a new friend, or tell her how you’re feeling – like any good woman she has opinions and stories to share. She’ll even tell you a joke, don’t be surprised if she’s funnier than some of your friends.