10 August 2014

Microsoft customises Cortana for China in Windows Phone 8.1 update

Microsoft has customised Cortana in the next update of Windows Phone 8.1 for different countries. 

Source: Microsoft Windows blog.
The text translates to: Hi Joe,
what canI do for you today?
As with other language versions, the Cortana personal digital assistant, affectionately nicknamed “Xiao Na (小娜)” in China, displays what she is tracking so users can control it. Reminders and quiet hours can be set, and she can help search the Internet, said Corporate VP for Operating Systems at Microsoft Joe Belfiore in a blog post late July.

Microsoft China has developed a number of additional features specifically for China other than Mandarin voice, text and speech* support, Belfiore disclosed, including a different visual appearance, animations, and sounds. Specialised suggestions for Chinese users include air quality information, driving restrictions, and the ability to track local TV shows and celebrities.

Universal tweaks to the Windows 8.1 update include:
  • Apps organised into folders on the Start screen, a feature called Live Folders because the live tiles of apps appear in the tile of the folders.
  • An updated Xbox Music app with quicker app load and list scrolling.
  • A Windows Phone Store Live Tile that is updated every six hours.
  • Selection of multiple SMS messages for deletion and forwarding.
Businesses will like Apps Corner, which controls which apps can be used in a special “sandbox” mode, turning Windows Phone devices into dedicated devices for a particular use. As an example, the devices could be used only for scanning inventory by employees at a warehouse, or only for retail demos. An Apps Corner profile can be exported from one device and imported to other devices.

The Windows Phone 8.1 update has additional protection for data and identity when on public networks. Users will be able to send and receive data through a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to Wi-Fi.

Read more on the new features here. The update is 
currently in preview form for developers and will be rolled out to all Windows Phone 8.1 users in the coming months. Cortana is currently available for people in China and the UK with this update as a beta** and in Canada, India, and Australia as an alpha**. 

*Cortana will understand spoken Mandarin and can speak Mandarin. Cortana will also understand written Mandarin and can respond with Mandarin text.

**Alpha versions are very early versions and features may not yet work as expected. Beta versions are interim versions that are closer to the final version, but features may occasionally not work as expected.