“Hey Cortana! Set a reminder for me.”

Cortana: “What’s your reminder?”

Me: “Remind me to update my blog.”

Cortana: “When would you like to be reminded?”

Me: “7 o’clock tonight”

Cortana: “Sure thing. I can remind you to update my blog at 7:00 PM tonight. Sound good?”

Me: “Yes.”

Cortana: “Great.”

Since upgrading to Windows 10, I’ve found that one of the most interesting features it brings is the Cortana digital assistant. This is one of the most talked about features of the new operating system and for good reason. Her novelty factor is exceeded by her usefulness, though she does have a few issues to work around.

I spent an hour or so playing around with the feature and found it to be pretty fun to use. Typing commands is obviously not as fun as talking to it, but it is sometimes a bit more efficient. Since it generates answers in the box while you type, it’s quick and easy to get answers to math problems, find out if it will rain today, and look up simple facts like the height of Mount Everest.

By default, to talk to Cortana, you need to click the speaker icon. You can change this and have her listen for the command “Hey Cortana!” When enabled, she will actively listen for this command and come to life if she hears it. This can be useful for those times when you’re typing and don’t want to break from your work, or when you’re across the room and need to set a reminder or get a tune playing.

[info color=”blue” ]To have Cortana actively listen for the command “Hey Cortana”, type into her search box “Cortana Settings”. Click on Cortana & Search settings. Enable the option for “Hey Cortana” and she will now listen for your command.[/info]

Sometimes she gets it a bit off

As with many voice activated applications, Cortana isn’t perfect. You need to speak clearly when giving her instructions. If you don’t, it’s likely you’ll get some very odd results.

I asked her what time Zekos opens (Zekos is a restaurant in Asheboro, North Carolina). After multiple attempts, she thought I said:

What time is it goes open?

What time does it goes open?

What time does Z goes open?

After asking for another restaurant, Bamboo Garden, she returned with a voice message to tell me they aren’t open now but will open at 11:00 am. I imagine that she will likely have trouble with some words due to pronunciation, so typing might be better for certain things.

Cortana is always listening, just not too well

Last night I was sitting on the couch talking to my friend. My laptop was open and we were looking through various pages on the web. At one point she said something to me which I don’t recall anymore, but do remember exactly what happened when she did.

Cortana snapped to life.

She suddenly started picking up what my friend was saying, but in no way was any of it correct. In fact, this is what she thought my friend said:

Yeah she pick you up to mikes pointed at you yeah she picked you up mikes for know you can say hello is it.

In reality, we were talking about how we forgot the mic was on. Other than that, I have no idea what she thought she was hearing but this, this was simply crazy.

Laughing about it, my friend told her “Hey Cortona, you’re hilarious. According to Cortana, my friend said “Your whole area.” Yeah, that’s not quite correct. A few minutes later we had once again forgotten about Cortana until she popped up again.

How old is Spencer anything like that nothing in there not mad?

We were talking about the automatic paper towel dispensers in Walmart. Cortana is great, but eavesdropping doesn’t seem to be her thing.

A few commands

Here are a few commands to throw at Cortana. Sometimes you will get different responses, in particular to things like jokes, favorite movies, or other personal details.

“Hey Cortana, play some music.” Saying this will make her launch the Groove Music application, followed by a random song in your library.

Cortana screenshot
When asked what Cortana’s favorite song is, you find out how she gets down.

“Hey Cortana, tell me a joke.” Some of these are funny.

Hey Cortana how old are you?” This answer varies.

“Hey Cortana, what’s your favorite movie?” This answer varies, but the most recent response was that she likes E.T., especially the part where he finally phones home.

“Hey Cortana, are you self aware?” Apparently she is.

“Hey Cortana, are you pretty?” She thinks so.

“Hey Cortana, are you sexy?” Her response shows that even she is disturbed by the question.

“Hey Cortana, what’s the meaning of life?” We all shine on, my friend.

“Hey Cortana, open Wordpad.” She will launch the application you tell her to, but don’t expect her to do anything once it’s loaded.

Fun ones

“Hey Cortana, do you have a Playstation?” She politely dodged the question.

“Hey Cortana, who is your daddy?” Who do you think?

“Hey Cortana, do you like Halo?” Of course!

“Hey Cortana, do you know Jen Taylor?” Best answer.

Do you have fun ones you’ve asked and gotten answers back for? Drop them in the comments. For a lot more of these, check out the article at PC World where Cortana answers 59 questions.