Microsoft is preparing to release its very own Siri alternative in Windows Phone 8.1. While details and screenshots have provided some of the features of Cortana, the name for Microsoft's digital personal assistant, a video has emerged today that shows the voice-activated assistant in action. Unleash The Phones has published a two-minute video that demonstrates the setup process for Cortana. It appears that Cortana will require a Microsoft Account to function, and it's activated after a set of questions and the ability to set what nickname the assistant will use to speak to you. Example questions include, "What are a couple of the most enjoyable parts of your everyday evenings?" and "When you think about food, what’s most important to you these days?"
Still no sign of Cortana's voice
After the questioning is complete, Cortana stores these details in its Notebook and the voice and search functions are then activated. The video doesn't show how results are processed, nor what the voice of Cortana sounds like, but it does reveal a do-not-disturb mode that Cortana will manage. Named "quiet hours," the feature will silence calls, texts, and other notifications during certain periods when it's turned on or set to automatically enable. Similar to Apple's iOS do-not-disturb mode, quiet hours will allow phone calls if a particular caller dials two times within three minutes, or if the caller is part of a favorite "inner circle" list. Text notifications can also be allowed through, or set to automatically reply during the quiet hours period.
Some of the Cortana animations are also shown in the video, where the circular interface bounces and spins when it's reacting or thinking. Microsoft's list of questions, combined with a Notebook privacy feature, will allow the personal digital assistant to build up a database of information to provide suggestions, reminders, and other features automatically. Microsoft is set to unveil Cortana fully at its Build conference in April, with a developer release due at the same time.