Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will include Cortana, a personal digital assistant designed to rival Siri and Google Now. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge how Cortana looks and operates, replacing the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone 8.1. While the feature is named after the Halo game series, Cortana will take the form of a circular animated icon instead of a female character. Cortana will animate when it’s speaking or thinking, forming a personality not dissimilar to Apple’s Siri.

Nicknames just like Siri

Just like Siri, Cortana will also allow Windows Phone users to set how they want to be addressed by the voice-activated assistant. Cortana can call users by their name or nicknames like "Master Chief" after the function is enabled in the settings. A key part of Cortana is its ability to save information and data in a Notebook system. Notebook will allow the Cortana digital assistant to access information such as location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information. Cortana can also track flights or other mentions in emails, allowing it to generate notifications similar to Google Now.

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Cortana will be backed by data from services like Bing, Foursquare, and others to give it some of the contextual power of Google Now. As we reported last month, the voice-activated assistant will also learn more about users and offer to store this personal data in its Notebook. While Microsoft is using the Cortana name during its testing of Windows Phone 8.1, it’s not immediately clear whether the company will opt to use this particular moniker in the final version of the software. Microsoft is expected to unveil Cortana at its upcoming Build conference, and the company will also release a developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 at the same time.

Read more: Cortana video demonstration