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One unique, clever Cortana trick links reminders to contacts.For instance, "The next time Dan and I talk, remind me to ask about the game." If more than one contact fits the description, Cortana will prompt you to pick from a list of contacts.

Depending on what you ask and how you ask it, the results may differ among the assistants.

They can be a little finicky on your articulation and exact wording.

Not everyone likes speaking commands into their phone, but for those who do, Microsoft's new Cortana voice assistant for Like Siri and, to a lesser extent, Google's voice actions, Cortana is a personable (or vaguely person-like) voice-activated system for taking dictation, looking things up, and opening apps.

Out of all the additions to the Windows Phone 8.1, it's Cortana that pulls the most weight keeping the Windows Phone in the OS game.

Siri, for example, didn't understand when I asked "What time is Captain America playing tonight?

" I got the MLB schedule for the Mets game instead (on more than once occasion).The OS update is designed to work on all version 8.0 phones, but update times will depend on individual vendors and carriers.Expect Lumia phones to receive the update over-the-air by summer, for instance. While Cortana isn't revolutionizing the field of voice assistants, it does give Windows phones a sorely-needed boost in the voice option department -- the previous generation, fueled by Tell Me, was limited and impersonal. (Yes, Halo fans -- Cortana is named for Master Chief's AI companion, and even voiced by the same talent: actress Jen Taylor.) Even in its early beta stage, Cortana mostly keeps pace with its rivals, and introduces one or two minor innovations that Apple and Google can learn from.That said, Google Now cards proactively predict your commute, so that information is available. Reminders and relationships Siri, Google Now, and Cortana all set simple reminders, like "Remind me to make a dentist appointment on Tuesday," but Cortana wants to nail down the time.

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