Interesting Build session on Cortana

Here's the video recording of a very informative session on Cortana.

They explain and demo both Cortana's built in functionalities as well as how third party apps make use of Cortana, and go through the developing process.

Here are some interesting things I learnt from the session:

  • It seems like you can get Cortana directly into listening mode (probably by long pressing the search button) without having to press the microphone button after launching Cortana.
  • Cortana does not talk back when you communicate with her via text, so you can use Cortana in privacy.
  • Basically any third party app can make good use of Cortana, especially apps that are about communication, information, reminders, and apps that provide large amounts of information. Examples are: Taking a look at a friend's Facebook page, Skype calling a friend, watching an episode on Hulu, searching for MSDN posts, etc.
  • The main advantage of using third party apps via Cortana is that it's faster. Instead of having to find the app tile, navigate through the app and do actions within the app, all you need to do is call the app's name and say a command.
  • Cortana is able to understand both natural language (via the cloud) as well as defined keyphrases, combining both methods to get the best results.
  • Developers can make us of Cortana's natural language capabilities, which are specifically built for different types of information that different types of apps handle. For example, Cortana knows how to handle phrases that are related to music and artists, and any third party music app can make use of that capability. So speech interaction with third party apps in Cortana should be just as natural and flexible as with Cortana's built in functions, without developers having to build their own language capabilities.
  • Some commands may require further conversation to specify what the user wants to do, and Microsoft wants developers to do that via Cortana as well, so that there's a coherent fluent speech experience.
  • In some cases, Cortana will talk to you after the third party app has been launched. For example, after she adds something to your queue in Hulu, you hear her say in the background "I've added *** to your queue"
  • The name, by which the app is "called" by the user, does not need to be identical to the app's official name. Developers can choose a simpler name when the official name is too long or doesn't sound natural.