Microsoft has a new product on their hands in the form of Cortana. And it looks like something which might be of huge benefit to the platform.
If you've ever used the voice controlled features of Android's Google Now or iOS's Siri then you've got an idea of what Cortana is. Basically, Windows Phone users will be able to talk to their handset and the interaction will be handled by Cortana. She'll talk back, help you perform functions, organise your day and remind you to wake up.
No doubt helped by having a couple of years to see how these other helpers have evolved, Cortana looks very fully featured from the off, as you can see in this helpful video.
As someone who only recently started to properly use Google Now, I'm consistently surprised by how well it all functions - tying together the whole Android ecosystem to help you get on with your day. And Cortana seems to have everything Google Now does and maybe even more.
Location based reminders are a wonderful thing and they're present here but it seems Cortana will also be able to remind you to do something the next time you talk to someone. That's neat. And it stores all the information its learned about you in a handy journal, which will only become more accurate over time.
Microsoft is also keen for Cortana to have a personality, more in the vein of Apple's Siri. You're encouraged to chat with her. Because now not only can you talk on your phone, you can talk to your phone.
Because, the Future!
Cortana is part of the Window's 8.1 update currently rolling out to Nokia Lumia handsets.