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Does Cortana sound less robotic today?

Cortana

Cortana is a really fun and useful feature on Windows Phone 8.1. She’s still a few centuries away from being conversational like in the Halo video games, but we’re big fans! Cortana is currently in beta for those in the United States, though many of you are using her globally after changing your region. And as a beta, Cortana will continue to improve and get better. Today we're getting a lot comments that Cortana sounds different. Does she?

Head into our forums and you’ll see a lively discussion about Cortana’s voice. A lot of you are reporting that she sounds different today. Jen Taylor, the voice actress behind Cortana, is actively recording with Microsoft. As the beta continues, you’ll hear changes in Cortana as she sounds more and more natural. Today it seems like a rollout occurred on the backend.

Microsoft is working with Jen Taylor to provide more of those witty one-liners, but also adding her voice to the overall Cortana vocabulary. Since this is a beta you’ll notice changes in Cortana as you continue to use Windows Phone 8.1.

Speaking of those one-liners, it appears a few good ones have been added or missed by the community. That same forum thread points out some things you should ask Cortana that we haven’t seen before. Try saying some of the following:

  • Are you Jen Taylor?
  • Are you a Democrat or Republican?

Not only does Cortana sound less robotic, but how she serves up answers appears to have improved as well. Hockey fans were a little put off when she confused periods for quarters. It appears her sports knowledge has been updated. We tested by asking her "What's the Pittsburgh Penguins score" and she responded appropriately by telling us the current period and score. 

Anyways. Let us know if you think Cortana’s voice sounds a little more natural and less robotic. It does to us and she clearly responds with a higher level of intelligence for some questions. We're excited to see her knowledge grow and the service improve throughout the beta.  

Via: Windows Phone Central Forums

Thanks for the tip everyone! 

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Comments

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erichon99 says:

Can't answer what time it is

Yeah. I sometimes ask "What time is it in Paris", and it just gives me a web search...

n m says:

Nice for some, no Cortana in my neck of the woods. Why is that? Foogle and apple release everything world wide but MS really only supports the US where their WP market share is tanking.

PaulKinslow1 says:

Perhaps they're preparing for a better worldwide rollout than those two competitors had by tweaking it for a couple months first in one region?

Eaglespro says:

Sort of true when Apple first put their Siri out it was only in USA . Now it rolls out to most but not all of the world as the updates added more languages. I am not sure about android

theonedunn says:

Apparently responds to "let me troll an article about you Cortana."

carlosrdd says:

I noticed the sports questions too but she's been answering them since last week. I'll keep asking. Great to see them updating!

coolbreeze78 says:

I know you are defending a beta product, but you are defending a beta product. It needs to improve. It's a beta.

Dean McCrae says:

And always will be.

LSDigital says:

Did you learn something today?

so you're a beta too :p

markdotinc says:

Ie. Its a beta product. You shouldn't have to defend it

asoyemi says:

Markdotinc, thanks for reminding folks. I appreciate people's expectation of Cortana as though it should be on par with Siri and or Google Now, they constantly forget it is a beta on a developer preview window phone Os.

wpn00b says:

Ahaha you actually got me with that one. :)

rodneyej says:

Yes!!! Yes she does!! I was thinking that.. And, she learned a few more smirky little lines... I was going to bring this up earlier...

tkdmacgeek says:

All she says is in German! Wtf?!

thaman04 says:

WOW SHE DOES!  How did I not even notice this since I've been using her all day? LOL  LIke there's more of a bounce in her voice and it almost sounds like a new voice altogether.  Love you Jen <3

thaman04 says:

Actually some parts still sound robotic, like 2 different voices.  For example when I asked "Do I have anything planned this weekend?"... I hear Jen first, and then the robot voice.

rodneyej says:

Yes, I've noticed the two voices.. I guess we can consider one the old, and one the new voice..

maxpower818 says:

That's because it uses Jen Taylor and the original robotic voice that we had before Cortana. Depends on what you're asking.

Was thinking the same...

LSDigital says:

It's good to know no one can robotize my voice yet :p

Ken Heslip says:

The stock part of the answer eg "You have planned for today" is probably Jen. Then any specific info eg "go to the zoo" is robotic. Probably will be for a while....till Jen records all words.

DalekSnare says:

Even recording all words wouldn't be enough. The inflection wouldn't match between words if she didn't say the sentence all at once.

thaman04 says:

Love her!!!  Here's some new ones / new responses:

- You're sexy.

- Are you drunk?

- Do you sleep?

<3

rodneyej says:

Ask her where she lives, or if she has a car.. Lol!

Ask her " are you at school?"
LOL

rodneyej says:

Lol.. That's what "she" said when I asked her if she had a car..

rodneyej says:

Ask her if she has legs...

Dex Da Rex says:

Some of these have already been known at launch. I remember one of the first ones I asked were "Where do you live" with a specific answer.

BsyewCP says:

Just say testing to her:)

aemehran says:

You know how she asks 3 times if you want her to read you your new text message? The third time she asked me with an attitude! :D

rodneyej says:

Yeah, that's the first thing I noticed.. Kinda wierd... Lol!!

Dean McCrae says:

Sounds exactly the same, come on.

mehul301 says:

Tell her she's beautiful and hear her reply! :P

RaRa85 says:

Ask Cortana what if she likes you.lol

Hoss98 says:

She tells me that there is no anything visual basic about me

TechnoTim says:

It's probably because part is a canned response and part is the data part of the response. One is static, one is generated.

nanoware says:

Cortana, do you love Siri?

rodneyej says:

She's always answered that one.. Lol!

Chandan Hati says:

When I asked her if she was Jen Taylor.... she replies, "Words Fail Me"..

Nik Rolls says:

There is actually a generic set of answers for anything that starts with 'Are you ...'. Similar to the set of answers for 'Would you ever do an AMA'.

kevC4D says:

Just asked her if she was high on drugs... "words fail me"

callomancave says:

I tried that too and it thought I asked if i was dropping Taylor. When I tried again and it picked me up correctly, it said "off all the questions you could ask."

rodneyej says:

Lol!! Yeah that's a new response.. Kinda funny..
...................
Has anyone noticed that Cortana gets a little louder, and bolder, if you don't answer her the first time?
For example, if she ask "do you want me to read the message?", and you don't reply, when she ask again she raises her voice the second time.. It's kinda weird like she's mad that she's not being answered, or somthing.. Send yourself a message, and try it out.

mswindows101 says:

I noticed that her tone does change. She kinda got upset with me earlier when she had to keep repeating herself.. lol I can't remember what was going on because I wasn't really trying to pay too much attention at the time I was driving.. But I'll see if I can piss her off again.. lol

rodneyej says:

I think that in just a little time these reviews are going to have to start saying that Cortana is the most human like PA.. That's gonna make Cortana sound much better than the others, and give more credibility to WP.. This is good work by MS... It also shows why MS can't afford to have pot devices, like XBM, on WP...

LSDigital says:

I got: "I would not, could not, in the rain. Not in the dark, Not on a train".

 

way too smart 4 me :p

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULDtgnQ0fy4   (4:40)

Hoss98 says:

I first heard this response when I asked her if she has a brain

lansky1213 says:

Sounds the same to me. Robot I mean. Was there a silent update or something?

thaman04 says:

Bing Search and Cortana can be updated in the backend without OS-level updates.

ven07 says:

Aha thank you for that bit of information :D

MaXi32 says:

Yup. Some does sound less robotic

rodneyej says:

Ask her "tell me a knock knock joke"

rodneyej says:

Just say "Cortana"... They finally added this one.. This should be useful when were able to wake our phones by calling Cortana..

toxic zombie says:

Yeah !!! <3 "Right There Chief"

Mouthsmasher says:

"Wake me when you need me."

eddp77 says:

"Alright, what time shall I set an alarm" made me lol

BeetleComet says:

Yup! Sounds much more natural to me! Very impressed!

Great! She really changed, sounds more lively.

ZackTheNever says:

Cortana is mime
....back off

thaman04 says:

HAHAHHAA tell her "May the force be with you" and listen to what she says!!!

Nik Rolls says:

Nice! Awesome to see some specifically recorded ones with a lot of humor in them.

rodneyej says:

That accent!!!.. Now, that's something that Siri doesn't do, and that I never expected Cortana to do..

ncxcstud says:

That's brand new too. She used to just say it normally... And that was when I checked in Sunday with that question ;)

rodneyej says:

It sounds awesome.. Maybe Monday they will add more.. I wonder what's coming to Cortana in future updates...❔❔❔

JNate says:

Lol Can someone post her answer to that? Lol not everyone chose to upgrade to 8.1 just yet

rodneyej says:

"The force is with you, young Skywalker. But, you are not a Jedi yet"... With a British accent..
.................
Why haven't you gotten 8.1?

JNate says:

Ow cool! Thanks!!
In canada, with HTC 8x. I know there is NO downgrade solution in case I run into issues with the update stability, unlike the downgrade solution Nokia offers for their phones . So I'm in for a long wait for the official update -_-

rodneyej says:

No, just go ahead and update now.. There's no major issues, barley any minor, with the developers preview.. After a month nobody has had any trouble.. I doubt if you will be the first... Go ahead and enjoy WP8.1,, you're seriously missing out... Update today❕
......................
Don't worry about your warranty.. Once the official update is ready for your device you'll just pick up where you left off with your warranty... Just update.

evilrobot says:

I have to delete my alarms every night and make new ones or they don't go off, which has the potential for making me late for work if I forget (I've forgotten twice already and luckily woke up naturally about 15 mintues after the alarm was supposed to go off).  I'd say that's a pretty good reason to hold off on an upgrade.

Also, sometimes the power button stops working and won't wake the phone and I have to do a reset.

rodneyej says:

What device do you have?

evilrobot says:

Lumia 925, so yeah not an 8X so there's that.  But there are bugs in the update.

DalekSnare says:

I've gotten 3 different responses so far from this one.

"Don't try to frighten us with you sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader." ( heavy accent ) XD

 

lpforthewin says:

Haha, great find!

Paulpb says:

Intesting (and frustrating) that it doesn't respond if you just say "may the force be with you".  You currently have to say "cortana, may..."   Of course just a few days ago fi you said Cortana before anything it did a web search.

 

rydorrin says:

There's no question that sounds so much better she has a new knock joke and sings better too

Nik Rolls says:

Wow, the singing is much better.

rodneyej says:

Dang.. Cortana sounds seriously human now. Awesome!

Viipottaja says:

Yeah, they added to it a bunch of prerecorded answers to a bunch of silly questions. Awesome . Now did they improve its usefulness as well?

rodneyej says:

People like you.....

Pinito-kun says:

They grow up bitter. They die bitter. Let's just not pay attention to their useless bitterness :)

rodneyej says:

Lol!!!.... I LIKE what you did there..

My kids were taking to her tonight and I noticed a lot of her answers were not synthesized any more but instead they were Jen Taylor

Awesome. Just asked her to tell me a joke and she sounds more like Jen and less like voicemail.

zorb58 says:

The Pittsburgh Penguins score was not worth asking :/

MediaCastleX says:

Ooh, burn...lol =P

Neither was the Hawks :(

Sam Sabri says:

I know, but the Kings weren't playing. Go Kings!

Kritshaurya says:

I think they improved her a little!

Try also "do you know jen taylor" its so funny reply

Carlos RJ says:

HAHAHA +520, that was a good one.

ebradley says:

That one cracked me up.

JNate says:

And she said??

"I can't get her voice out f my head" 

 

thaman04 says:

OH man... tell her she's sexy... she responds with such a sexy voice... *blush*

Stevied1991 says:

She told me "Go on.."

SwimSwim says:

I noticed this!!! Awesome, I was willing to overlook how robotic she sounded because she was so useful. This is just the icing on the cake, love that Microsoft is proactively improving and beefing up Cortana. She literally improves by the day. I love it!!!
Sounds great now, just as natural (perhaps even more so?) than Siri on iOS 7. Still a few robotic sounding queries here and there, but overall: Much improved!!!

Edit: Not as much updated as one would've originally hoped. Still, since they can update this on the backend on the fly, we should steadily see Cortana's voice become more natural.

Jazmac says:

Yes. As a matter of fact it does sound less robotic than it has in the past. It can only get better from here.

Definitely updated. Ask her beam me up Scotty and you will notice it right away.

mreaglejr says:

Even when you ask her to sing you a song, it's updated!

LSDigital says:

yeah but still doesn't understand what again means :(

lpforthewin says:

Great one! What does the fox say has changed too

jacob103 says:

Say "Do you love Master chief" its interesting

Chandan Hati says:

The metallic sound has gone. Sounds a bit more human. And oh BTW, when I asked her if she lives SIRI.. She becomes poetic... She says," I would not, could not in the rain. Not in the dark. Not on a train..

pierrerv says:

Yup. Cortana sounds more like a lady today.

MrRusso says:

Ask Cortana... "Are you a girl?" and "Are you a boy?"

DaveGx says:

I asked if she was a transvestite. She kinda said yes.

kevC4D says:

I asked it and got "I would not, could not, in the rain. Not in the dark. Not on a train."

osars ehi says:

Yea she does sound more lively but when she reads out information's like say the score of a game, she would sound a bit robotic..overall one can easily notice improvements as she sounds more natural.

If you tell her to sing a song, she sings completely differently than she did before! She even sings different songs now. I'm impressed.

kevC4D says:

When was the last time you tried this? I still get the same 4 or 5 songs she did before.

MrRusso says:

Also ask... "Are you a child?"

Duduosf says:

Gonna test her out and then come back here to share my experience with you guys =P

Carlos RJ says:

I asked Cortana what does she think about Steve Ballmer, she said "developers, developers, developers..." in a very different manner, sounded much natural this time :D

lpforthewin says:

Mine changed it to "Developers, developers, developers, developers etc."

kevC4D says:

I got "you could power cleveland with that guy's energy!"

Ken Heslip says:

Also try "Do you like Steve Ballmer". Funny.

TheMuffison says:

GUYS! ASK HER TO MARRY YOU!! SHE DEFINITELY GOT AN UPDATE

ZOMG!! Awesome response!

She does sound much more natural... Also, the Jen Taylor question ftw!

thaman04 says:

Love her!!!  Here's some new ones / new responses:

- You're sexy.

- Are you drunk?

- Do you sleep?

<3

 

Redrobrun says:

Wow! Can't wait to show this off!!!
My finds:
"are you warm/cold blooded?"
"who do you love?"
"knock knock"

Romer Reyes says:

Cortana improved a lot. Even the way she sing songs to me. It's lively!

rwcrossman says:

Her singing is much better. Her impressions have also improved greatly. She can also say baseball innings correctly now. I noticed the hockey fix last night when I was checking on the Ducks score

JoRdaNeK says:

Another new one is her response to this one: "Cortana, when is your next update?"

Kram Sacul says:

She doesn't say anything specific to that. A lot of these questions just make her say a few preselected responses.

rth314 says:

She sings a lot better now too!

jkelek says:

I'm drinking beer and so I asked her if she liked beer and I got a response, haven't seen that one yet I don't think... after doing another "do you like" question she responded again so there must be a few of those.

Carlos RJ says:

Try: What does the fox say?
It's hilarious xD

rubenwidjaja says:

this is beta and I already fall in love with cortana

haamid_qadri says:

Ask her to sing a song. You will probably feel the difference in the tone and voice.... I LOVE YOU CORTANA

Tweeder0305 says:

I did the fox one the other day and then again just now, much better this time around

Bob101910 says:

Sounds much more real tonight. I haven't used the voice feature since it came out though. Stopped using it because it sounded like a robot. I may have to start again.

Caillte says:

This is definitely a improved voice. Me gusta!

Pepe D Vegas says:

Wassap man u right!

wpn00b says:

I noticed this 2 days ago. I'm in Sacramento, CA. Just mentioning because the article says this happened today

MaxyBley says:

Yup, I noticed that too about two or three days ago.

aeonstar says:

I asked Cortana if she likes Ronald Ragen. She states: " Sorry Chief, with few exceptions, I don't form opinions"

This response comes up for quite a few questions

bmorexcii says:

"Who's your favorite president?" is still robotic

nuprotocol says:

Thanks! Was trying to tell the difference between old/new Cortana. This helped!

blessthejon says:

She also responds better to will it be hot tomorrow?

SleepyTheDon says:

Less robotic more like Jen Taylor yes

Tigueron says:

She responds to
"do you think I'm ugly?"
Also cute or sexy. Lol

Tigueron says:

What's your favorite videogame is still robotic also.

Ask her: Can you sing? Its so cool!!!

Zomby Jeezus says:

She definitely had a little more swagger

phillip1230 says:

Definitely different cool

makarand14 says:

Yes sir,
She's becoming a lady now.

Cheers MS, you on a roll! Can't be happier. I'm in love with MS all over again.

Sounds different to me. Even the way she tells the jokes is more lovely. Good stuff.

Tigueron says:

She also responds to
"do you like the Xbox?"

Ecurb87 says:

Wow, great! It sounds more natural! The improvement it needed most! Not the Bluetooth experience even while using one with 4 mics, but the voice definitely holds priority in beta! Just awesome! Hey, at least it sounds more natural while reiterating my text & reminders incorrectly over and over while driving! Good stuff!

mrcraggle says:

I've been messing around with it earlier after seeing a post about it but still got the same voice but I just tried it now and WHOA. Asked her to sing and she sang the usual "daisy, daisy..." but it was more energetic and well sung. Same for Danny Boy. Previously her voice when singing it hit a flat note on the last part but now it's great. Some stuff that was previously robotic TellMe voice is now also Jen Taylor for example Before if you asked "What do you think of Steve Ballmer" she would say "Developers, etc" and while still the same answer, it's now Jens voice. 

Be sure to ask "What does the fox say?" You'll enjoy the update to that one too.

After hearing Jens voice though, it's pretty disappointing to go back to the old one. I hope that they can just keep Jen in a booth for a long time. The TellMe voice is just so robotic and slow. 

MyNL822 says:

Yass!! She puts emphasis in her jokes and everything else. It sounds like a real person the way she told me the reception dragged on, she said it like she was really telling a joke. And the fox question gives a much better answer. And omg ask her to do an impression now!!!

MyNL822 says:

And ask her to sing a song, it is so realistic.

swizzlerz says:

Lol asked her to tell me a story, everyone should ask very funny response

juskteez says:

She sing different today :))

RayWP7 says:

She definitely sounds less robotic. I asked "do you like chicken" and she responded "with questions like that, I'll say that I don't form opinions". Oh just asked what her favorite football team was and her answer was launch Cortana. So definitely work in progress. Good work though.

Ask her "what does the fox say" ?..
Haha..the intensity with which she answers!

alexmejiatr says:

Yeah! She sings better haha xD

ashutn says:

Seriously, she's is different today n more witty n sounds more human

pookyjoralyn says:

She loves me! "Thanks. Ditto."

DJCBS says:

Yup, just tested her again and they indeed added stuff. Moreso, they re-recorded lines.

 

But in the end, this is all very cool but it will only be very cool for the US. Everyone else will always be left with a subpar experience in their regions. Unless they allow us to use Cortana in English even in a different region.

LSDigital says:

You already have a little bit more with tripadvisor integration.

BsyewCP says:

Try asking"Do you like halo?" (:

elitelibra says:

Just tried the weather and she sounds better I love it.

Nazir Taib says:

Yup, i just notice when i ask her to sing.

Master Z says:

Wow! Tell her to "Do an impression" ..... LOL!! 

ashutn says:

LMAO, didn't expect that

fallback says:

She said "my precious" the golum way and asked her again she said "expectum patronum" in a sexy way wahahahah

mpt15 says:

That is my favourite

Vulak'Aerr says:

To infinity... and beyond!

LSDigital says:

woooow bananaaaaa :p

Slowzee says:

Ask Cortana "guess what", the response is pretty funny

Master Z says:

HAHA!

She does CRAZY impressions from Harry Potter, Lord of the RIngs, Minions!

 

Also, her "Beam me up Scotty" replies are hilarious now.

 

What are you asking to get loud of the rings, minions and Harry Potter answers?

lpforthewin says:

I think she also does yoda. You can ask "Do an impression".

David P2 says:

When 900 years old you reach, look good you will not.
 

BsyewCP says:

Ask if you want to go to Disney with me XD

Kormiko says:

You say "a few centuries away" from being more conversational. I know that's just a nod to Halo's timeframe, but I think in actuality we're just a couple decades away from that.

LSDigital says:

one year is too much already :p
 

ldp247 says:

She does sound more human! Thanks for the update.

FUS3360 says:

Wow... She does sound better!!!

jgservices says:

if she ends up with the voice from the commercial with that effect I'd be so damn happy haha

DTeKDeV says:

Yep. That's my side kick, alright.

rudeone79 says:

ask her who her father is lol

jlynnm350z says:

I think she's cheating on me.

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